(BPT) - For 66-year-old Michael Stellar, it was easy to blame his lack of energy and fatigue on getting older and long hours at his job selling heavy-duty truck and trailer parts. But when Stellar went in for his annual primary care visit, his doctor quickly noticed something was off. As she checked his heart, she asked him how he was feeling, noting that his heart was practically beating out of his chest. His doctor quickly recognized that Stellar was living with atrial fibrillation, commonly referred to as AFib.
This common, yet life-threatening, irregular heartbeat is estimated to affect 12.1 million people by 2030, according to the CDC.
Some patients with AFib aren’t aware they have it, and may have little to no symptoms, while others may feel an irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations (rapid, fluttering or pounding), lightheadedness, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort. Without early diagnosis and treatment, AFib can worsen over time and cause serious complications including heart failure, stroke and increased risk of death.1-4
After Stellar’s physician explained the condition, it clicked that the exhaustion that left him falling asleep as soon as he got home from work, and too drained for his usual swimming and biking, wasn’t because of his age, it was because of AFib.
Treatment for AFib: Know your options
Stellar was promptly referred to an electrophysiologist to discuss his diagnosis and various treatment options. Not wanting to take medication every day for the rest of his life that is meant to control the heart rhythm but may cause side effects or lose effectiveness over time,5 Stellar opted for a one-time, minimally invasive procedure called an ablation. His physician described that the Medtronic cryoablation procedure is used to control the heart rate, reduce AFib symptoms and help prevent AFib from worsening. Stellar jumped at the opportunity.
While every patient’s journey can be different, Stellar regained his energy just days after the cryoablation procedure. The change was so drastic, his family shared that they “have the old Michael back.” In just weeks following the procedure, he was swimming every morning before work at 4:30 a.m. and riding his bicycle on the weekends. In fact, Stellar says, “I’m telling everyone I know about this procedure,” and in less than two months since the cryoablation, he has already encouraged two friends experiencing AFib to talk to their physicians about the treatment option.
Heart monitoring offers ongoing peace of mind
During Stellar’s procedure, his electrophysiologist also inserted a tiny heart monitor beneath the skin of his chest to remotely monitor his heart. With the Medtronic Reveal LINQ™ Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM), Stellar says he feels “secure and supported,” knowing his doctors can keep an eye on his heart while he lives his everyday life — whether he’s swimming laps, working or spending time with family and friends. Also, since AFib patients are five times more likely to have a stroke,6 long-term monitoring technology is key to detecting irregular heart rhythms that can cause more serious consequences.
Spread the word: What you need to know about AFib
Reflecting on his experience before being diagnosed and seeing such a drastic improvement on his daily quality of life, Stellar wants to share his story in the hope that more people learn about AFib risk factors, potential symptoms and the treatment option that gave him his life back.
There are several risk factors for AFib, including advancing age, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and heart failure. Stellar had a long family history of high blood pressure and had been living with it for years.
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of AFib, don’t hesitate to speak to a doctor. Learn more about heart rhythm disorders and treatments, as well as remote monitoring options, at: Medtronic.com/AFmonth.
Treatment with the Arctic Front™ Cardiac Cryoablation Catheter System and the Reveal LINQ ICM is prescribed by your physician. Your physician should discuss all potential benefits and risks with you. Results may vary, this story represents one individual’s experience with these devices.
1 Miyasaka Y, Barnes ME, Bailey KR, et al. Mortality trends in patients diagnosed with first atrial fibrillation: a 21-year community-based study. J Am Coll Cardiol 2007;49:986-92.
2 Hindricks G, Potpara T, Dagres N, et al. 2020 ESC Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of atrial fibrillation developed in collaboration with the European Association of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS). Eur Heart J 2020.
3 Wolf PA, Abbott RD, Kannel WB. Atrial fibrillation as an independent risk factor for stroke: the Framingham Study. Stroke 1991;22:983-8.
4 Lubitz SA, Moser C, Sullivan L, et al. Atrial fibrillation patterns and risks of subsequent stroke, heart failure, or death in the community. J Am Heart Assoc 2013;2:e000126
5 Valembois L et al. Antiarrhythmics for maintaining sinus rhythm after cardioversion of atrial fibrillation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD005049. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005049.pub5.
6 Wolf PA, Abbott RD, Kannel WB. Atrial fibrillation as an independent risk factor for stroke: the Framingham Study. Stroke. 1991;22:983-988.