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Northwestern Memorial's Heart Center Pioneers Minimally Invasive Surgery That Corrects Irregular Heart Beat
Date:2/12/2008

Experts combine traditional surgery procedures for a minimally invasive surgical option to treat atrial fibrillation

CHICAGO, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Atrial fibrillation, a type of abnormal heartbeat, affects approximately 180,000 Chicagoans and upwards of 6 million people in the United States. While this condition can be managed with medication, the only way to cure atrial fibrillation is through surgical intervention, which until recently required a large incision in the chest, putting the heart on bypass and an average six - eight week recovery time. Thanks to a new approach that combines techniques from two existing procedures, experts at Northwestern Memorial's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute have pioneered a way to offer patients a minimally invasive treatment for atrial fibrillation called Hybrid Maze. Northwestern Memorial is currently the only center in the United States and one of only a handful worldwide with the capabilities to offer the Hybrid Maze procedure to patients.

During atrial fibrillation, the heart's two small upper chambers, called the atria, quiver instead of beating effectively. As a result, blood isn't pumped completely out of the atria and may pool and clot, which can transfer to the brain and become lodged, resulting in a stroke. Atrial fibrillation is the second leading cause of stroke, and the likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation increases with age. Due to the risk associated between atrial fibrillation and stroke, it's very important for individuals suffering from atrial fibrillation to treat the condition.

Dr. Richard Lee, surgical director of Northwestern Memorial's Center for Atrial Fibrillation, has been investigating less invasive ways to treat atrial fibrillation for years. "The Maze procedure with its high cure rate of atrial fibrillation is well known to patients, but they wanted a less invasive surgical option," commented Dr. Lee. Minimally invasive procedures allow for a fa
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SOURCE Northwestern Memorial Hospital
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