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

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 100 patient testimonials for Dr. McCarthy, please click here.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

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