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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Heart Surgery & Atrial Fibrillation

Many patients who undergo heart surgery for other conditions have also been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Yet most patients do not receive treatment for their atrial fibrillation during heart surgery.

Surgeons at Northwestern Memorial have treated over 1,000 patients with atrial fibrillation, and treat 90 percent of patients with this disease at the time of surgery, which is twice the national average (according to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons). The only patients who are not offered surgical treatment are those for whom it would pose increased risk.

We see real value in treating multiple cardiac conditions in a single surgery when possible. For example, our team performs atrial fibrillation surgery in nearly 100 percent of patients with a history of the disease who are undergoing isolated mitral valve surgery.

Research shows that patients whose atrial fibrillation goes untreated during heart surgery have worse outcomes than patients without the disease. But research performed at Northwestern Memorial suggests that after the atrial fibrillation is treated, outcomes are similar to patients who do not suffer from the disease.

Over the past several years, Northwestern Memorial has performed atrial fibrillation surgery on 100 percent of isolated mitral valve surgery patients with a previous history of atrial fibrillation, compared to a national average of around 50 percent, as reported by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Team Approach Improves Outcomes

Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, is one among our team of expert cardiac surgeons treating atrial fibrillation. Our team of nationally recognized cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, nurses and other specialists will collaborate with your primary care physician or other referring healthcare provider. Dedicated nurse coordinators will follow your case, answering questions and managing the team.

Studies conducted at Northwestern Memorial prove the benefits of integrative care extend beyond the operating room. Even when surgery is not successful, many patients still return to a normal heart rhythm through non-invasive treatments like catheter ablation. By coordinating care, we ensure the best possible outcomes.

Who is a Candidate?

Tailoring atrial fibrillation treatment to meet each patient’s unique needs is our priority. For those who need it, we treat atrial fibrillation in patients who are undergoing heart surgery for other cardiac conditions including:

  • Coronary bypass grafting
  • Mitral valve surgery
  • Aortic valve surgery
  • Congenital Heart disease

Contact Us Today

For more information regarding atrial fibrillation, please call the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312-694-AFIB (2342) and ask to speak with one of our dedicated atrial fibrillation nurses. Jane Kruse and Mary Navarrete can provide information, answer questions and assist you with treatment options that best fit your needs. You can also request a first-time appointment online.

Clinical Trials and Quality Ratings

For more information regarding clinical trials related to atrial fibrillation, please visit the Clinical Trials Unit of Northwestern, send an email or call 312-926-4000.

Our quality ratings provide detailed information about data we have collected about our healthcare performance. View our quality ratings related to atrial fibrillation.

Last UpdateDecember 18, 2013
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