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    Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute

    Michael - Atrial Fibrillation No Longer Slows Him Down

    Michael - Atrial Fibrillation No Longer Slows Him Down
    Michael - Atrial Fibrillation No Longer Slows Him Down

    Diagnosed with atrial fibrillation in the 1990s, Michael learned to live with his body’s decline in performance until he met electrophysiologist Subramaniam Krishnan, M.D., in 2011.

    “He saved my life,” Michael said, fondly reflecting on his experience with Dr. Krishnan.

    Since his diagnosis, Michael had been controlling his symptoms with medical management. He needed his prescriptions changed several times throughout his care, but nothing seemed to work perfectly. Each medication would manage his symptoms for a while but nothing cured him.

    “I have always lived a very active lifestyle,” Michael said. “Before my illness, I was an avid track runner and ran a chain of restaurants with 60 stores. Because of my condition, I went from an extremely active lifestyle, to normal, to finally less than normal.”

    It wasn’t until his primary physician referred him to Sutter that Michael got the help he desperately needed. Michael was referred to cardiologist Harvey Matlof, M.D., with Sutter Medical Group. Dr. Matlof reviewed Michael’s chart and ran a few tests to try to figure out the cause of his atrial fibrillation. Based on a few indicators, Dr. Matlof suspected the issue might be caused by something that happened while Michael slept, so he sent him to Sutter Sleep Center for evaluation.

    Just as Dr. Matlof suspected, Michael’s atrial fibrillation was triggered by sleep apnea. Michael was fitted for a CPAP machine, which he wears at night while he sleeps. However, despite using this machine, the atrial fibrillation persisted. Dr. Matlof then suggested that Michael see an electrophysiologist to see if they could help regulate his arrhythmia.

    Michael decided he was going to take an active role in his health and asked Dr. Matlof for a few referrals to check out. “I met with several doctors about my health, and I knew after speaking with Dr. Krishnan that he was my best chance,” Michael said. “I could tell that his whole life was dedicated to taking care of people’s heart rhythms; it was his quest. So I gave him a shot and he fixed me.”

    Dr. Krishnan began working closely with Dr. Matlof to see if there was anything else they could do to get Michael back to his normal activities. They felt that Michael would benefit from a cryoablation procedure, which is a type of ablation that uses technology to freeze heart tissue instead of burning it.

    Michael had the right idea when he interviewed several physicians for his ablation procedure. People having this procedure want to make sure they find a physician they are comfortable with. “The success rates for this procedure aren’t great, with only 60-65 percent being successful after one attempt,” said Dr. Krishnan. “However, in patients such as Michael, the arrhythmia can cause significant symptoms and medications used to treat arrhythmia can have side-effects and add even more symptoms.   A successful ablation can correct the arrhythmia and eliminate their need for medications and unwanted symptoms. It is for this reason that at Sutter, we work hard on our commitment to quality atrial fibrillation care, allowing us to be second in the nation to receive full Atrial Fibrillation Certification status from the Society of Chest Pain Centers.”

    Now, almost a year later, Michael is not having any more atrial fibrillation symptoms.  Even after undergoing an extensive seven hour procedure for prostate cancer Michael’s heart is still beating normally.  He is back to his normal self with more color in his face and is walking at least three miles almost every day without even getting out of breath.

    “I would like to give all the credit to Dr. Krishnan,” Michael said. “He is the savior. His education and experience is off the charts. I love him and think the world of him.”

     

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