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.
More about the Convergent Procedure for Atrial Fibrillation (including the Ex-maze)
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…
I just want to say Thankyou to you for being so active in voicing the concerns about Atrial Fibrillation. I am a 27 year old Australian girl who has suffered with this condition for 2 diagnosed years (and presumably a few undiagnosed also). Last year I underwent a Cathetar Ablation to try to correct and revert my heart rhythm permanently, unfortunately, it has been unsuccessful at this stage and I am back on Medication with my Cardiologist wanting to do another Ablation.
I can not afford to do another one at this stage so I am having to take medication and hope and pray that I can sort it out at a later date without complications happening sooner. The frustrating thing is, I am a healthy weight, healthy living person who drinks minimal amounts and doesn’t smoke. And I am YOUNG!! I have struggled with doctors not even believing me in the first place that I had anything wrong with me!! ( I was too young and ‘healthy’ to have a heart condition like that!!) And also with the toll it has taken on me emotionally, physically and financially as a single girl living in a large city has at times been overbearing.
Finding out about this awareness month and this site has truly blessed me. It amazes and encourages me how much information you are giving to this condition and the support that it is to us, the sufferers of it, is greatly appreciated. Even though you are based in the US and I, in Australia, it is reaching me and no doubt countless others too.
Keep up the good work!!
Thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad that this information is of help and support to you. Our goal is to give those with afib their lives back, regardless of where they are located.
It takes time to raise awareness around the globe, but we are trying and reaching out to others for help and support . We invite you to join us in raising awareness, and appreciate anything that you can do to help.
Afib does take a huge toll, and I’m sorry that you’ve had to go through this, especially at your young age. I’m also sorry that your catheter ablation didn’t work and that another is needed.
While afib is somewhat unusual in young folks like yourself, it’s not as uncommon as we might think, especially when it runs in families. It’s unfortunately often diagnosed as panic attacks in younger folks because doctors typically don’t expect afib in those who aren’t seniors.
That’s another area for raising awareness, and a reason to see a specialist once you’re diagnosed.
Afib is truly unique in younger folks, which is why we have just set up a forum for Younger Afibbers in our discussion forums. Go to http://forum.stopafib.org/index.php?showforum=26 to access it. To start a topic, you’ll need to register. And please share your story in your member profile so others can know about your afib journey.
Wishing you normal sinus rhythm,
I support all of you in trouble with atrial fibrillation but I urge you not to try the Atritech Watchman system. I have been seriously injured by it and now require open heart surgery in the next two weeks to remove the broken device. That’s much worse than fibrillation. Have the appendage removed – best advice.
Thanks for this great website. As the Acting Consumer Representative on FDA’s Circulatory System Devices Panel (term expires 10/31/09), I applaud your work.
I also suffer from PAF and intend to consult with the guys down in Pinehurst. I have had the condition for nearly 19 years and it is simply time for me to get this treated.
If I may be of service to you or any of your readers, do not hesitate to contact me.