There are approximately two million Americans who suffer from Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib), a rapid, irregular heart rate that causes reduced blood flow to the body. Some patients with A Fib experience heart palpitations, weakness and shortness of breath. However, this chronic condition can be dangerous because it frequently goes unnoticed, putting many patients at risk for blood clotting that can lead to a stroke.
With Florida having the nation’s third largest population of A Fib patients, one area medical center — Mount Sinai Heart Institute in Miami Beach—began perfecting the Hybrid Maze method of treatment to help eliminate symptoms that medications and traditional single ablation procedures generally cannot.
Dr. Angelo LaPietra, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Mount Sinai Medical Center, is a leader in this closed-chest cath lab procedure, which uses the combined approach of surgical and electrophysiological techniques to improve the outlooks for chronic A Fib patients, considered the most challenging of all to treat.
During the Hybrid Maze procedure, Dr. LaPietra makes small incisions in the patient’s stomach to access the heart and creates surgical lesions that block AFib triggers and pathways. Then, an electrophysiologist (EP) uses cardiac mapping technology to find and plug any small gaps in the surgical lesions. The combined approach typically is viewed as safer and provides improved outcomes. And, since it is a procedure done in a cath lab and not an operating room, patients generally experience minimal discomfort and quick recovery time.
“Single ablation procedures are only effective about 50-60 percent of the time, and medications often leave patients ‘feeling sick’ most of the time,” Dr. La Pietra said. “Right now, Hybrid Maze is the only available treatment that truly improves their lifestyle.”
Dr. LaPietra began performing the procedure in 2010, and initial studies have shown Hybrid Maze is effective in 85-90 percent of patients who remained in normal sinus rhythm during the first six to eight months following their procedure. Dr. LaPietra now also trains other doctors from around the country on how to perform Hybrid Maze.
Mount Sinai’s Hybrid Maze procedure has been well received by patients. Besides eliminating discomfort and daily medication regimens, it has also been found to be a positive alternative, particularly those with large atria that leads to persistent or chronic A Fib who are not candidates for traditional single ablation.
For information on The Mount Sinai Heart Institute and/or the Hybrid Maze Procedure, visit www.miami-cardiology.com or call 305-674-CARE (2273).