A-Fib Patient Story #57
‘Point of No Return’—AV Node Ablation and Pacemaker
by Bev Stansfield, 2011
This is directed to A-Fibbers who have reached the point of no return and have to have or did have the AV Node ablated and a pacemaker put in. (See: Ablation or Modification of the Atrioventricular [AV] Node and Implementation of a Pacemaker) As my EP put it, “this is the end, you know” just prior to me having mine done. I decided it was the end of having any more PVAs, of course.
Getting Rid of Blood Thinners—the AtriClip
I also wanted to end taking blood thinners which all make me sick including the new Pradaxa, so I started my research. Came up with the Watchman, which I did not like at all. Came up with the Lariat (II) which is done in the cath lab at the Texas Heart Institute. Then while talking to my EP Dr. Bhandari at Los Angeles Cardiology, he mentioned, “we could consider the clip” (AtriClip—See: “FDA Approves AtriClip to Close Off Left Atrial Appendage”). He explained to me it was arthroscopic surgery where a small clip is put on the LAA through two small incisions under the left arm. No more blood thinners need to be taken as the clip stays tightly on the LAA for the rest of your life.
Operation by Dr. Gheissaris
My next question was who will do it? Dr. Bhandari gave me Dr. Ali Ghiessaris’ name and number and told me he has “GOOD” hands. That was the clincher. I made the first appointment the next day for the surgery to be done at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. I had this done eight months ago at age 85. It took several months of recuperation at that age, but now I am feeling great and only have to take one med Cardizem (a calcium channel blocker to keep patients in A-Fib from having a too-fast heart rate).
You younger A-Fibbers will heal much faster than I did, as I also had complicated spinal surgery in 2010. (Some of you may already know the Drs. at LA Cardiology. Dr. Bhandari heads up the cath labs there.)
It’s a great feeling to know that if I do cut myself badly or have an accident, I’m not going to have a bleeding problem.
Steve wanted me to get this story out to all who either refuse to take or can’t take blood thinners like me. Now I can take my power trike out and not have too many worries except to watch where I’m going.
To all who make the same decision I did, you won’t regret it. And good luck!
Editorial Comments: Installing an AtriClip is not an absolute guarantee one will never have a stroke or an A-Fib stroke (neither is taking blood thinners). But since Bev is still in A-Fib, closing off the LAA really decreases the risk of an A-Fib stroke, since 90-95% of A-Fib strokes come from the LAA.
Though arthroscopic, the AtriClip surgery is generally harder, more invasive and more traumatic for older people than installing other LAA closure devices. If you are over 80 years old, surgeons may be reluctant to perform an AtriClip operation on you.