Three years since treatment

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. 

2 thoughts on “Three years since treatment

  1. I have added a picture to the original. A minimaze is done on the ouside of the heart, whereas a catheter ablation is done on the inside. To access the heart, three incisions are made at the side of the chest wall and the lung is collapsed. The cox maze lesion set is made, the lung re-inflated and the procedure repeated on the other side. It is a long time under general anaesthetic, there is a lot of bruising and you are very drowsy. After 24 hours I was allowed to walk 5 metres with the physiotherapists, after 48 I was allowed to shower by myself and after 72 hours, I was allowed to prove i could walk upstairs unaided. That evening I was allowed home and went straight to bed. On day four I went for a half mile walk around the block and was exhausted.

    By comparison, after the catheter ablation i felt spectacular, better than I was when I was admitted.

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