Nearly 3 million Americans are living with Atrial Fibrillation (Afib), a heart condition which left untreated can lead to stroke, blood clots, and other heart-related complications.
Afib is the most common heart arrhythmia and as many as 400,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Symptoms of Afib include a rapid, irregular heartbeat or palpitations (caused by an abnormality of the heart's electrical system) fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness. In some cases, the symptoms are so severe they become debilitating.
Bruce Bennett, of Cornwall, CT, was diagnosed with Afib in his late 50's. A horticulturist by trade, Bennett and his wife Debby, own a greenhouse and landscaping business in Kent, CT. "I experienced my first episode during a meeting with prospective clients," said Bennett. "I didn't know what was happening, so I excused myself and drove immediately to the nearest hospital emergency room where my irregular heart rhythm was stabilized."
Afterwards, his primary care physician referred him to see a cardiologist and several consultations later, Bennett found the doctor he was looking for - Dr. Robert Winslow, medical director of the Electrophysiology Department at Danbury Hospital's Praxair Regional Heart and Vascular Center. "I wanted a cardiologist who clearly explained all of my options and why I didn't have to be overly-worried about what was going on with my heart."
Bennett started treatment for his Afib with medications. That helped keep it partially under control for a while. When he was in Afib more than he was out of Afib, he was reassured that alternative treatments were readily available which included medications, electric cardioversions and a standard cardiac ablation procedure, the only procedure available at that time.
"The cardiac ablation procedure combined with medication stopped my erratic heartbeat," said Bennett. "I felt great. I went on a five mile hike on the Appalachian Trail three days after the ablation. As is often the case with Afib, about 12 months later, it reared its ugly head again."
"For far too many years, Afib became so exhausting it just zapped away my energy level," said Bennett. "It affected the quality of my life. I wanted to continue my active outdoor lifestyle, my business, and keep doing what I enjoyed - gardening, organic farming, hiking and skiing."
At that time, Danbury Hospital cardiovascular physician experts were highly trained and expertly skilled in performing a relatively new multi-disciplinary, minimally-invasive hybrid ablation procedure for the difficult to treat Afib patient population. The procedure is performed by a team of cardiac physician experts in electrophysiology (EP) and cardiothoracic surgery.
"Ideal candidates for hybrid ablation have recurring episodes of persistent, long-lasting and/or permanent atrial fibrillation resistant to the standard cardiac ablation procedure," said Dr. Winslow. "The hybrid ablation procedure uses the combination of surgical and electrophysiology techniques that enhances the capability to treat Afib patients in a single procedure." So when Dr. Winslow offered Bennett the hybrid ablation procedure as an option, he didn’t hesitate and years later with rare reoccurrence, he's glad he did.
"The hybrid ablation procedure was much easier than I had expected," said Bennett. "I recovered quickly and have been doing great ever since."
For more information about the programs and services offered at the Praxair Regional Heart and Vascular Center at Danbury Hospital, please call 1-800-511-7821.
Western Connecticut Health NetworkWestern Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered health care organization serving residents of Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. With this recent affiliation, the organization is now anchored by three nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, as well as their affiliated organizations. In addition to the three hospitals, the continuum of care offered includes numerous medical practices and sub-specialties across the region, home health care services, a nationally renowned biomedical research institute, the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation, the Norwalk Hospital Foundation and other affiliates. For more information, visit TheNewWCHN.org. Share your comments with us at Facebook.com/DanburyHospital; Facebook.com/NewMilfordHospital and/or Facebook.com/NorwalkHospital.