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Bob's Story: Atrial Fibrillation

Learn how Bob Ek and his cardiologist, Scott J. Pollak, MD, FACC, work as a team to manage Bob’s atrial fibrillation.

When your heart skips a beat, it just gives you inner anxiety and concern.

Bob Ek: Atrial Fibrillation Patient

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Transcript

Wood working takes a lot of patience. Bob is a patient guy. He patiently waited more than thirty years before he found a doctor who diagnosed his heart problem.

Bob: “When it happened, I didn’t know what it was. It would be a break in my heart beat, and usually when it happened I would get very light headed and weak in my arms.”

Bob had a common heart problem called atrial fibrillation (also referred to as A fib). Atrial fibrillation affects more than two million people. Simply put, the condition causes one part of the heart to beat out of time with the other.

Bob: “When your heart skips a beat it just gives you inner anxiety and concern”

Heart health experts say many people with A fib aren’t bothered by symptoms, but in some instances this irregular heart beat can make people feel as if their heart is racing or jumping out of their chest and may increase the risk of stroke, heart disease—even death.

Bob: “There were times when I fainted because I lost blood going to the brain. So what if that had happened while I was driving the car with my wife and grandchildren and lost control of the car. I was always thinking in the back of my mind that I better be careful.”

The medicine Bob had taken to help manage his symptoms was no longer working. Dr. Scott Pollak is Bob’s cardiologist at Florida Hospital. Dr. Pollak says that because of his worsening symptoms, Bob was considered a good candidate for a relatively new type of procedure called catheter ablation. Dr. Pollak has potential patients watch a computer “lesson”. It helps them learn the procedure, which essentially uses radiofrequency to block the abnormal heart rhythm. They also learn the potential risks. This “lesson” is one way that Dr. Pollak partners with patients like Bob.

Dr. Pollak: “The partnership is based on a mutual understanding of the problem. From the physician’s standpoint, his responsibility is to understand whether the atrial fibrillation is bothering the patient. If it’s interfering with the quality of his life, the physician should effectively communicate the potential treatment options, which include no treatment to medical treatment, meaning taking drugs to catheter ablation.”

Bob: “I like the word partner because I sense that there is a partnership between the patient and the cardiologist.”

Since his ablation procedure, Bob hasn’t felt his heart skipping or racing. While this procedure isn’t for everyone, he and his doctor are confident it was a success.

Bob: “As every day goes by, I have the feeling we have conquered it, and my quality of life is improving. I’m glad we made the decision to do it and we would do it again.”

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