I didn’t even notice this anniversary, but my daughter pointed it out to me; it is now three years since my mini-maze. I also had a catheter ablation for flutter and re-isolation of one of the pulmonary veins six months after this, but this was planned from the start. I have been pretty much AF-free since this procedure; I have had a few wobbly heartbeats picked up on the Kardia, but these were not accompanied by any symptoms and were generally dismissed as normal by the cardiologist.
My fitness has taken a nosedive; admittedly from a very high pre-AF base, although as endurance exercise was probably the cause of my AF, this may be a good thing. I have not tried to regain my original fitness level, worrying that this would also bring back the AF, but I have been out cycling and walking regularly. I started off very steadily, over short distances with no hills and gradually increased the intensity. Last summer I went back to the bike club, but for the social rather than the faster pace rides. Last year I did 2700 miles at 14.5 miles/hour, this is a 1000 miles and 1½ miles/hour worse than in 2015, but it is a comfortable level and I am very happy with my abilities, compared to where they could have been.
I was an unusual case; the mini-maze is not common in the UK. It was difficult and recovery was relatively slow. I did feel that the debilitating aspects of the procedure were not really made clear, and I think someone a little older or less athletic may have struggled. However, I have no AF and very few ectopics, my fitness is probably above average for my age and if anything my ECG is still improving. I take no drugs and due to the LAA occlusion, I don’t even need anti-coagulents.
The clinical trial I was part of has now finished, the report has not yet been published, but I know that in the UK at least the mini-maze has been markedly more effective that the catheter ablation approach. Although I would like to read the final report, I think that I would recommend the mini-maze wholeheartedly to anyone suitable, with the caveat about recovery being more difficult.