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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


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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