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John and Marcia Thornton-Personal A-Fib story at A-Fib.com

John and Marcia Thornton

A-Fib Patient Story #84

PVC-Free After Successful Ablation at Mayo Clinic by Dr. Mulpuru

By John Thorton, as told to Steve Ryan, December 2015

In September, John Thornton wrote us about his successful ablation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN:

“Well, I am now home from the Mayo Clinic. I cannot give high enough praise to the way Mayo treated me. The nurses were outstanding, and the delivery of care exceptional. The Mayo philosophy and attitude is far superior to the way the local hospital does things.”

Difficult Ablation with Multiple A-Fib, Flutter and PVC Spots

On July 27, 2015, John had his ablation procedure at the Mayo Clinic.

Besides A-Fib and A-Flutter, a particular problem for John was PVCs. Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs) are premature beats that occur in the ventricles, i.e., the heart’s lower chambers. (Premature beats that occur in the atria, the heart’s upper chambers, are called premature atrial contractions, or PACs.)

John’s ablation turned out to be quite an extensive procedure. Dr. Siva A. Mulpuru found two sources of PVCs, two spots A-Fib was originating from,  and one where atrial flutter was found.

The ablation took six hours which was much longer than a typical pulmonary vein ablation/Isolation (PVA/I).

High Density PVCs and Low Ejection Fraction

John Thornton: “According to Mayo, if PVCs are over 20% of your heart beats, they are dangerous. Mayo calls that level ‘high density PVCs”.  High density PVCs cause your heart muscle to weaken.

My high density PVCs were 30% of my heart beats, and my ejection fraction was down to 41%.

[An ejection fraction (EF) below 50%, means your heart is no longer pumping efficiently to meet the body’s needs and indicates a weakened heart muscle.] 

After the ablation, my PVCs were down to 15% of my heart beats, and my ejection fraction was back up to 64%.”

[Spot on! A normal ejection fraction is in the range of 50 – 65%.]

My Heart is Beating Normally Now!

“It’s now December 2015 and I am still A-Fib free. I do have occasional PVCs still, but no where near the extent of what I had prior to the ablation. I am almost completely without symptoms of any rhythm problems.  I’m still on a beta blocker and a blood pressure med.

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned graphic with hands 400 pix sq at 300 resDo NOT listen when doctors say PVCs are harmless.

The local MDs (about a half dozen different ones), cardiologists, EPs, and other local specialists, all told me stuff like, “Everyone has PVCs” and “PVCs are benign” and “It is just anxiety” and “You just need to learn to live with it” which was completely WRONG.

Be Assertive, Even Aggressive: I had to set up my own appointment at Mayo to get evaluated there.  It was a lot of work, by me alone, to get in to see the doctors at Mayo, but it was worth it.

I honestly believe that had I not gone to Mayo I would have suffered some major heart event, or possibly death.

Follow-up and Changing MDs: Many of the local MDs are not receptive to me now. I had to change my local cardiology group to one where they would listen to the recommendations from Mayo.

I had to interview local doctors to find one willing to listen to Mayo’s staff and order follow-up tests for me.  Simple things like ECGs, lab test, etc…

I am planning all my major follow-ups back at Mayo because of the stress between the locals (with the one exception) and the people at Mayo.

One Final Thought: If in doubt, go to the Mayo Clinic and get checked out.  They know what they are doing and are the real experts.

Feel free to email me if you have questions about PVCs and/or the Mayo Clinic.”

John Thornton, Sioux Falls, SD
johnthornton(at)sio.midco.net

Editor’s Comments
To learn more about PVCs, see my article: FAQs Coping with A-Fib: PVCs & PACs
Like John, don’t be afraid to fire your doctor! To learn how to interview doctors, see our page: Finding the Right Doctor for You and Your A-Fib.
PVCs aren’t always benign and, especially for people with A-Fib, should be taken seriously. Often they precede or predict who will develop A-Fib. They can increase chances of a fatal heart attack or sudden death. Sites in the heart that produce PVCs can be mapped and ablated just like A-Fib signals.
Kudos to John for being his own best patient advocate, for taking the bull by the horns and dealing with his PVCs which were destroying his life and driving him crazy. In spite of what he heard from everyone else, he persevered and went to probably the best center in the US for treating PVCs—the Mayo Clinic. Now he’s A-Fib free and only has occasional PVCs. Way to go, John!

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If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Saturday, July 23, 2016

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