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Question:

Should I have mitral valve surgery sooner than later to avoid developing atrial fib?

Why wait until A-Fib is present if moderate mitral stenosis already exists and is progressing? Atrium is only at mild level. I have a large family history of strokes (Mom had 7, brother had massive stroke at 57 & some extended family did also) and I want to do what I can to prevent one. Stopped smoking 29 years ago, no alcohol, cholesterol is great, and no plaque of any consequence. I am afraid to wait until A-Fib is part of my life, but also realize there are risks associated with surgery. At this point, I am waiting a few more months & then cardiac tests will be repeated. 

submitted by Cindy from Maine on 8/11/2012

Answer:

by Texas Heart Institute cardiovascular surgeon, Denton A. Cooley, MD  Denton A. Cooley, MD, FACS, FACC, FCCP

Hello, Cindy. While it is not possible to give you a definite answer without reviewing all details of your medical condition, it is easy to understand your concern, especially about avoiding stroke. I applaud the healthy steps you have taken, especially discontinuing smoking. Surgery for a diseased mitral valve has well established benefits, but the operation can at times actually hasten atrial fibrillation. I encourage you to follow your cardiologist's advice who can help you make a wise choice.     

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Updated August 2012
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Texas Heart Institute Heart Information Center
Through this community outreach program, staff members of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) provide educational information related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is not the intention of THI to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided and THI urges you to visit a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your questions.
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