Pat Robertson, Founder and Chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), recently had the Convergent Procedure for his atrial fibrillation, which in this case was accompanied by removal of his left atrial appendage.
The Convergent Procedure for atrial fibrillation involves radio-frequency surgery followed by a radio-frequency catheter ablation, both of which are done in a special EP Lab outfitted for the dual-purpose of performing surgery and catheter ablation.
Dr. Andy C. Kiser, cardiothoracic surgeon, did Mr. Robertson’s surgery. That was followed immediately by Dr. Mark Landers, electrophysiologist, doing the catheter ablation. The surgery took place August 18 at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, NC.
I had the distinct pleasure of observing Dr. Kiser and Dr. Landers do the same Convergent Procedure on another person the prior week. While Dr. Kiser doesn’t normally remove the left atrial appendage — I specifically asked him that question — I understand that in this case it was deemed appropriate because Mr. Robertson’s left atrial appendage was enlarged. That required moving him from the EP Lab to a full Operating Suite, and thus doubled the normal procedure time from the usual 4–6 hours to 10 hours.
When I had my minimally-invasive procedure (surgery) for atrial fibrillation four years ago, my left atrial appendage was also removed. Doing so removes the majority of the stroke risk due to atrial fibrillation as the left atrial appendage is the source of at least 90% of the afib-related blood clots that cause stroke.
Mr. Robertson had been suffering from atrial fibrillation for several years. I, too, know personally the toll that atrial fibrillation takes. After surviving blood clots and a near-stroke during my first afib episode, I lived in constant fear that the next one would bring on a deadly stroke. In fact, I felt like I was “a stroke walking around waiting to happen.” Once cured of this irregular heartbeat by surgery, I couldn’t stand on the sidelines and watch others suffer so I started StopAfib.org to help those who were living the nightmare of atrial fibrillation.
Today, September 1, 2009, StopAfib.org celebrates the launch of Atrial Fibrillation Month. This marks our third year of celebrating Afib Month to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation. Afib is an expensive and life-threatening irregular heartbeat that is a common cause of stroke.
I have been pushing like crazy to find ways to raise awareness of afib for Atrial Fibrillation Month so that we can get people diagnosed and treated and thus decrease their risk of afib-related stroke. That is one of our goals, not just in the U.S., but worldwide.
More about Atrial Fibrillation Month
As I focused on how to get the word out even more than last year, my prayers were answered. All of the media attention around Mr. Robertson’s procedure is raising awareness of afib.
Thank you, Mr. Robertson, for bringing attention to atrial fibrillation. Thank you for all the lives that you will save.
For more info:
- Pat Robertson Recovering from Successful Heart Surgery
- Video news story about Pat Robertson’s heart surgery
- September 2009 is Atrial Fibrillation Month
UPDATED 9-9-09: Dr. Kiser and Dr. Landers were featured on Pat Robertson’s The 700 Club on Tuesday, September 8 talking about the convergent procedure that they recently did on Mr. Robertson.
Watch the video…