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MAZE – A Cure for Irregular Heart Rhythms

The McLeod Heart and Vascular Institute is providing a cure for cardiac patients who suffer from atrial fibrillation with a surgical procedure called MAZE.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an abnormality of the electrical system of the heart. It is a rapid beating of the upper chambers of the heart, which prevents the heart from pumping blood adequately to the lower chambers.

Some heart patients may not be aware of being in atrial fibrillation. Others are aware of exactly when their heart changed from a normal rhythm to AF. Many patients describe the feeling of AF as their heart is skipping or fluttering, or most commonly that their heart is racing. AF can be accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, and extreme fatigue.

The MAZE procedure is a surgical intervention for heart patients whose AF cannot be controlled by medications or for those who are undergoing open-heart surgery for other reasons. MAZE cures AF by interrupting the electrical patterns that are responsible for the irregular heartbeat.

With the MAZE procedure, a McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgeon using a radiofrequency probe, will make burn lesion areas in the heart tissue without damaging the heart. These lesions placed in strategic areas of the upper chambers of the heart redirects the electrical pattern.

The scar tissue generated by the lesions permanently blocks the electrical travel route and helps redirect the electrical flow. This surgery helps the heart pump in a normal way.

Patients with AF are likely to be on a blood thinning medication. After a MAZE procedure, patients will be kept on medications such as Coumadin for three months during the remodeling process of the heart to help prevent any reoccurrence of AF.



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