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Minimally invasive operations for atrial fibrillation are on the
rise. How well they work is up in the air.
In 1987, a St. Louis surgeon created an operation called the Maze
that successfully stopped atrial fibrillation, a rapid and
uncoordinated beating of the heart's upper chambers that affects
more than two million Americans. Since then, surgeons and
inventors have been trying to shrink this complex, open-heart
operation into a smaller one that is just as effective but easier
on the heart and body.
A handful of "mini-Maze" procedures are now being performed
around the country. They don't always live up to their name —
some take liberties with the mini part, others with the Maze. The
doctors doing these procedures passionately believe in their
effectiveness. Unfortunately, that passion hasn't yet translated
into hard numbers on how well the procedures work.
Some women who opt for hormone therapy are choosing bioidentical hormones, which are manufactured instead of occurring in nature. Researchers are still examining the long-term effectiveness and risks of these medications.
Atrial fibrillation, an irregular, fluttering heart rhythm, can
cause dangerous clots. It can often be treated with medication,
but if this approach is not effective, surgery may be necessary.
Practicing deep, focused breathing is a relaxation technique that
can help alleviate stress, which in turn will likely have
positive effects on general health and well-being.
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