Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a disorder centered in the heart's upper chambers that causes the organ to be unable to maintain its regular rhythm. The condition can cause palpitations, fatigue, weakness, and dizziness, causing anxiety and concern for patients and their families.
While treatments like lifestyle changes and medication sometimes work, other people must undergo medical procedures like cardioversion, catheter ablation, or surgery in an attempt to find relief.
About Dr. Andrea Natale
As the executive medical director of St. David's Medical Center's Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute in Austin, Dr. Andrea Natale is a world-renowned expert in the treatment of AFib. After earning his medical degree at the Università Degli Studi di Firenze's School of Medicine and Surgery in Florence, Italy, Dr. Andrea Natale was a research fellow at Methodist Hospital at Baylor College. The completion of residencies took him to Western Ontario University in Canada and the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
A multi-award-winning expert in the cardiac field, and a member of the FDA's task force for Atrial Fibrillation, Dr. Andrea Natale was a Director of the Electrophysiology Laboratories at Duke University before becoming the Director of the Center for Atrial Fibrillation and Section Head of the Department of Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology at the Cleveland Clinic.
Patients from the United States and Canada rely on Dr. Andrea Natale for his use of innovative technologies, specialized equipment, and patient-centric approach to treat their AFib. Along with his exceptional attention to detail, these qualities facilitate the beneficial patient outcomes that Dr. Andrea Natale has become known for.
Ryan Wiseman: A Young Man Has His Life Back Now
As a young man, Ryan Wiseman had everything going for him in 2013. He was in the military, focused on keeping himself healthy mentally and physically, and enjoyed a strong relationship with a woman that he loved. Everything changed, however, the day he underwent a routine medical exam in California.
Wiseman was diagnosed with AFib and could now longer work out. He and his wife had to face the reality that, because of AFib, he might not live as long as he expected.
Over the next five years, Wiseman went through a number of attempts to treat his AFib, including 10 cardioversions and four ablations that were unsuccessful. Even a surgery provided him with no solution to his condition.
His doctors in Denver were not comfortable taking any additional steps, so they sent Wiseman to the country's best expert: Dr. Andrea Natale. Dr. Natale was able to treat his atrial fibrillation by isolating its left atrial appendage (LAA), a procedure he pioneered which can treat the patients' recurrent atrial fibrillation. Following this ablation, he used the WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) device to avoid the possibility of blood pooling and clots forming in his now isolated LAA. This eliminated his risk of stroke and meant that Wiseman no longer needed to be on blood thinners.
Today, Wiseman is a parent and has no problems keeping up with his children's antics. He can also run again to ensure that he stays physically and mentally healthy.
Travis Van Slooten: Dr. Natale's Expert Assurances Helped Him Regain His Life
Eight months after having an ablation to treat his AFib, Travis Van Slooten was still experiencing premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) and premature atrial contractions (PACs). Unhappy with the continuation of these symptoms, he flew to Austin, Texas, to see Dr. Natale.
In spite of the discomfort and concern that Van Slooten felt regarding the continued presence of PVCs and PACs, Dr. Natale assured him that the rate - about 1,000 per day at their worst - was benign. He would become concerned once the frequency approached 20,000 daily.
Using a couple of different monitors had raised Van Slooten's anxiety level because of the feedback they offered him. The EKGs delivered by one showed that he was having multifocal PVCs and a first-degree AV block. Once Dr. Natale examined the EKGs, however, he assured Van Slooten that he was having neither.
Another monitor provided Van Slooten with the information that his heart rate was in the 30s and 40s. The reading would then switch to his normal 60s or 70s. Dr. Natale explained that the device was likely getting the reading at some point during a PAC or PVC.
While he was in Austin, Van Slooten also had an echocardiogram. The preliminary results that he received noted that the test found mild mitral valve regurgitation and mild tricuspid valve regurgitation. Despite these scary-sounding findings, Dr. Andrea Natale assured Van Slooten that his heart was healthy and working well.
Van Slooten's visit with Dr. Natale gave him the assurance that he needed to stop worrying about the health of his heart. In spite of the PVCs and PACs that Van Slooten had to endure, his heart was working just fine.
Canadian Rani Minhas Crosses the Border for Treatment
At 61 years of age, Canadian Rani Minhas developed AFib. Fatigued and not feeling like herself, she and her husband, Moni Minhas, navigated the country's nationalized healthcare system to get her the care that she needed.
Unfortunately, the couple found this process particularly frustrating. The first cardiologist they saw was dismissive of AFib, informing them that Minhas would need to get used to the condition because of her age. He suggested a blood thinner and blood pressure medication because it was elevated that day.
Weeks later, Minhas finally had her scheduled appointment with a second cardiologist. His treatment plan included a prescription for beta blockers with instructions to take a higher dose when she felt palpitations coming on, to relieve the symptoms without addressing their cause, atrial fibrillation.
Frustrated by the fact that none of the four cardiologists or two other doctors that Minhas saw had bothered to review her chart prior to walking into her appointment, Moni searched for an AFib expert online. After being properly coached, the couple not only knew that Minhas needed a catheter ablation but also knew the questions that they needed to ask.
While their appointment with the first expert in catheter ablation went well, Rani and Moni Minhas were unhappy about the eight weeks wait for the procedure. After seeking out a recommendation from a trusted source, the couple quickly got an appointment with Dr. Andrea Natale.
Shortly afterward, Minhas underwent a successful catheter ablation procedure, and didn't have any more instances of AFib or heart palpitations after the surgery. In addition, she no longer had to take beta blockers.
These three people all had different life circumstances but shared an AFib diagnosis. After the expert assistance and expertise of Dr. Andrea Natale, each one has experienced significant improvements in their lives.