Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) is the most common heart rhythm abnormality that starts in the atria. Approximately 2.2 million people in America and 4.5 million in the European Union have paroxysmal or persistent AF. Please join us to have your Atrial Fibrillation questions answered by cardiologists and Directors of our Center for Atrial Fibrillation Walid Saliba, MD and Oussama Wazni, MD and atrial fibrillation researcher David Van Wagoner, PhD. We welcome Mellanie True Hills, Founder and CEO of stopAfib.org to join us.
When someone has AF, the sinus node (SA node) doesn’t properly direct the heart’s electrical rhythm. Many different impulses rapidly fire at the same time, causing a very fast and chaotic rhythm in the atria (upper chambers of the heart). Because the electrical impulses are so fast and chaotic, the atria cannot contract and/or squeeze blood effectively into the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart). This decreases the heart’s pumping ability and increases the risk for blood clots. Cleveland Clinic's Center for Atrial Fibrillation is a multidisciplinary specialty treatment group dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of AF– whether it is chronic (persistent) or paroxysmal (comes and goes). Since 2004, we have seen thousands of patients in the center.
Walid Saliba, MD, is Director of the Electrophysiology Lab, Associate Section Head of the Pacing and Electrophysiology Section, Co-Director of the Ventricular Arrhythmia Center, Medical Director of the Center for Atrial Fibrillation, and a Staff Cardiologist in the Section of Cardiac Electrophysiology and Pacing in the Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. He is board-certified in cardiac electrophysiology, cardiovascular disease and internal medicine. Dr. Saliba is trained in all aspects of clinical cardiac electrophysiology and pacing, including catheter ablation of complex arrhythmias, implantation of cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators, placement of left atrial occlusion devices and extraction of implanted pacemaker- and ICD leads using laser technology. His specialty interests include Atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, abnormal heart rhythms, supraventricular tachycardia, epicardial ablation, biventricular pacemaker, catheter ablation, lead extraction, implantable cardioverter defibrillator, pacemaker implant, atrial fibrillation ablation, and left atrial appendage occlusion.
Oussama Wazni, MD, is a Staff Physician in the Cleveland Clinic Section of Cardiac Electrophysiology and Pacing. He is the Director of the Outpatient Electrophysiology Department and Co-Director of the Ventricular Arrhythmia Center. He is board-certified in internal medicine, cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology. He specializes in electrophysiology with special interest in atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia ablation. Dr. Wazni is principal investigator in several ongoing research studies related to atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia ablation, anticoagulation management in patients undergoing ablation for chronic atrial fibrillation, and use of low molecular heparin for bridging in patients undergoing implantation of mechanical valves.
David Van Wagoner, PhD, is a Translational Scientist who works with physicians in the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic. As a scientist, Dr. Van Wagoner does not treat patients, but works closely with Heart Center physicians to research the mechanisms underlying atrial fibrillation, and to develop and assess new techniques for treating atrial fibrillation and other aging-related cardiovascular conditions. Dr. Van Wagoner's specialty is cellular electrophysiology research. Dr. Van Wagoner is an active member of the Faculty of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.
Mellanie True Hills left her corporate executive life behind to spread the word about women and heart disease after almost dying in emergency heart surgery. On September 13, 2005, Mellanie had Mini-Maze surgery and says, "Though it was surgery, with risks and anesthesia, and was in an area that is very delicate for women, I have no regrets." She had been grounded from flying for two years, and was now able to fly again and travel by herself. She says, "You can't put a price on getting your freedom back."
Mellanie praises all those who made this surgery possible because they restored her life and freedom. Would she do it again? In a heart beat. That's why she adopted this tagline for StopAfib.org.