“Surgical treatment with ablation is a therapeutic option that is now increasingly available in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), even sometimes before antiarrhythmics, especially as two new studies show that this strategy is superior”, describes Professor Frédéric Sacher, a rhythmologist at the University Hospital of Bordeaux, as part of a week of action on atrial fibrillation.
Small incision in heart tissue
Atrial fibrillation is a traitorous pathology because it often goes undetected, affecting 40 million people worldwide and 750,000 in France. This disorder is characterized by an irregular and very fast heartbeat, which can lead to a stroke.
During the surgical removal of the heart, small incisions are made in the heart tissue in the atria (upper chambers of the heart). By blocking the abnormal signal pathways, these incisions restore normal heart rhythm. Previously, the incisions were made with a scalpel and then sutured together, which made the procedure complicated and risky. But new incision techniques make it possible to reduce the difficulty level of intervention and the risks associated with it.
Professor Frédéric Sacher explains: “For people who have had permanent fibrillation for several years, surgical ablation treatment becomes more difficult. Surgical ablation treatment also involves spending two or three hours on the operating table in a lying position, which can be a little tricky for the elderly.”
Rest one week after surgery
“After surgery, the patient must be monitored to avoid complications or recurrence. The main goal is to stop the antiarrhythmics. Patients usually need a week’s rest after returning home, without special rehabilitation”, concluded health professionals.
To be treated as effectively as possible, atrial fibrillation must be detected as early as possible, as soon as the first symptoms appear, which can include fatigue, palpitations, shortness of breath or even dizziness. More than 20% of strokes are associated with a pre-existing atrial fibrillation that can be detected and controlled. Birth weight and tobacco are factors that cause pathology.