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New treatment option available to patients with long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation

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A 3D illustration of the heart and veins around the respiratory system

Patients with the most common type of heart arrhythmia have a new treatment option available thanks to a new program at AdventHealth Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute. The Comprehensive Atrial Fibrillation Program offers an option for patients with longstanding persistent atrial fibrillation which significantly increases the chances of maintaining normal rhythm compared to existing standalone options.

On progress...

Dr. David Spurlock headshot
This program is designed to treat a group of patients who are currently undertreated and gives them a new option to improve their quality of life.”
- Dr. David Spurlock, cardiothoracic surgeon at AdventHealth Orlando


The new program provides patients with a shorter recovery time, better outcomes and the ability to potentially cure AFib. For example, the minimally invasive hybrid procedure requires a 1-to-2-night hospital stay and then the patient is back to a normal routine within two weeks. Compared to a 3-month recovery from broken bones with open heart surgery, which historically was the only way to eliminate atrial fibrillation from the outside of the heart.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AFib is responsible for more than 454,000 hospitalizations and roughly 158,000 deaths each year in the U.S. In addition, the CDC forecast 12.1 million people in the United States will have AFib in 2030.


This FDA-approved hybrid approach involves two procedures to help treat patients with long-standing Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). By offering a minimally invasive procedure, patients can improve, and potentially cure, the most common type of heart arrhythmia.

“Instead of opening your chest and going inside the heart to fix AFib, we can make the same type of lesions on the outside of the heart using cameras to guide us, without stopping it, and only make a 2-centimeter incision at the base of your chest,” said Dr. David Spurlock, a cardiothoracic surgeon at AdventHealth Orlando.

"In this second procedure, we access the inside of the heart through the veins in the legs and cauterize off certain areas of the patient's heart, “ said Dr. Mahmoud Altawil, an electrophysiologist at AdventHealth Orlando. “By having both procedures done, one outside the heart and the other inside, it increases the patient’s chance of being able to maintain normal rhythm long term.”

Altawil says studies have shown many long-standing AFib patients do better with this hybrid, two-procedure approach and many are able to come off blood thinners, which is an added benefit.

On multi-disciplinary approach...

Dr. Altawil headshot
Treatment is not one size fits all. Every patient is unique and it’s important to get on the same page as a collective group regarding treatment to be successful.”
- Dr. Mahmoud Altawil, electrophysiologist at AdventHealth Orlando

“When physicians from multiple specialties come together to discuss our perspectives on a patient’s treatment, and we bring the patient in to discuss our best plan of action, we empower the patient to be an active participant in their own health care,” said Spurlock.

The multidisciplinary approach in this new program, which includes both the EP and cardiac surgeon, allows for treatment to be tailored to each patient and further improves outcomes.

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