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“Is It Common To Have Mitral Regurgitation & Atrial Fibrillation?” Asks Donny

Posted by Adam Pick on July 5th, 2011

I received a great email from Donny about atrial fibrillation and heart valve surgery. Donny asked me, “Adam – I’ve suffered from a-fib longer than I can remember. Now, I need mitral valve surgery due to mitral regurgitation. My heart is already dilated. Am I an anomaly or this common?”

Luckily, I was able to ask Donny’s question directly to Dr. Patrick McCarthy, the chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. As Dr. McCarthy has performed over 4,000 heart valve procedures and maintains a clinical focus on atrial fibrillation, I thought you might like to hear Dr. McCarthy’s response…

Thanks to Donny for his question. And, a special thanks to Dr. Patrick McCarthy for sharing his clinical experience with all of us. For those patients who are hearing impaired, you will find a written transcript of this interview with Dr. McCarthy below.

Adam: Hi, everybody. It’s Adam and we are at AATS in Philadelphia very happy to be sitting next to Dr. Patrick McCarthy who is the Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Northwestern in Chicago, Illinois. We’ve got a question for Dr. Patrick McCarthy from Donny and Donny writes, “Adam, I’ve suffered from afib, atrial fibrillation, longer than I can remember. Now I need mitral valve surgery due to regurgitation. My heart is already dilated. Am I an anomaly or is this common?

Dr. Patrick McCarthy: First, Donny, it’s very common. We hear this question all the time. I probably see patients with this about twice a day and so patients with mitral valve regurgitation frequently develop atrial fibrillation and what happens is the mitral valve leaks and the blood goes up into the atrium, the upper chambers. The atria are supposed to contract and push blood into the heart but instead, they quiver and that puts patients at risk for a stroke because the atria, when they quiver, can form a blood clot so probably Donny is on a medicine called Coumadin to get rid of that. So the long story short is at the time of doing the mitral valve surgery, we do a Maze procedure, it’s called, or an ablation to treat atrial fib and it varies by patients but overall, it’s about 80% effective in getting rid of atrial fib so for that group of patients, we’re running close to 100% of the patients that have a history of atrial fib before surgery, we’ll treat it and we’ll try to get rid of it.

Adam: Right. Well, Dr. Patrick McCarthy, thanks for stopping by.

Doctor Patrick McCarthy: Okay, Adam.

Adam: Most importantly, I know a lot of patients watching this have had successful surgery. I just want to acknowledge you for all your dedication to this entire important industry, the research and the clinical studies. Thanks so much.

Dr. McCarthy: Thanks, Adam, and thanks for bringing this to the patients’ attention. It’s really important. You’re doing a great job.

  • To learn more and read over 30 patient testimonials for Dr. McCarthy, please click here.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick A dad, a husband and a patient, Adam Pick founded this website in 2006 to educate you about heart valve surgery from diagnosis to recovery.
You can get the latest updates about heart valve surgery from Adam at his Facebook, and Twitter pages. Click here to email him.


Ricky (a female) says on July 5th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Even after an ablation during Mitro valve replacement,I was still in
Afib…….. I had medicine to convert my heart beat.Then it went
back into AFIB,I have had two cardioversions. I really don’t feel
bad either way….. my main problem is keeping my blood thinner in
range……It’s a lot of trail and error.


Eric Desbonnet says on July 6th, 2011 at 2:37 am

A new onset of afib was how I was diagnosed with severe mitral regurgitation. A mitral valve repair and Maze procedure 2 years ago by Dr. Adams at Mt. Sinai in NYC fixed me to where I’m as good new.


William Sipio says on July 19th, 2011 at 4:58 am

I am post-op 21 years from mitral valve repair performed by Dr. Cosgrove at the Cleveland Clinic. I have lived with a-fib for about the past 18 years on Coumadin. Is there any chance that I could eliminate a-fib and return to normal sinus rhythm? I am also on Coreg and Lisinopril. Any comments appreciated- thank you.


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