Catherine was in the midst of one of the most exciting and stressful times of her life—planning her wedding—when she had her first episode of atrial fibrillation. Her heart raced. She was light-headed. She couldn’t catch her breath.
“It’s so scary,” she says. “It’s your heart, and that freaks you out when you’re 28 years old.”
In the months leading up to her wedding day, Catherine had two A-fib episodes: they were successfully treated in the hospital with medication that slowed and regulated her heart rate. She was symptom-free for two years until, when three months pregnant, those familiar symptoms returned and she found herself hospitalized for another A-fib episode.
Catherine’s cardiologist put her on a daily heart medication, and while she was assured that the treatment was safe during pregnancy, she personally was not comfortable with it. She wanted a new approach, and was referred by her cardiologist to Larry A. Chinitz, MD, at the Heart Rhythm Center.
“I met Dr. Chinitz two days after I got out of the hospital, and we made a plan,” Catherine says. “I didn’t want to stay on a daily medication while pregnant, so he gave me a prescription for a pill that I could take if I fell into A-fib that would correct the rhythm so I wouldn't have to be hospitalized again. I was monitored throughout the rest of my pregnancy, and there were no complications.”
“An ablation sounds really scary and it is, but I'm so happy I did it. I feel better and I know that the chances of me ever having an A-fib episode again are very slim.”—Catherine, Age 31
Catherine had a healthy delivery, but when her son was just a few months old, the A-fib returned. It was time, Dr. Chinitz told her, to opt for a more permanent fix—catheter ablation, a treatment in which heat is used to disrupt the signals in the heart that cause the out-of-sync heartbeat. Within weeks after the procedure, Catherine felt a difference. She no longer needs medication. Best of all, she can focus on the future.
“Everything looks great,” she says. “And now I can try for baby number two.”