Is atrial fibrillation common after open heart surgery?
Q: My father recently had an aortic valve replaced. The surgery went well, but the cardiologist told us that he has atrial fibrillation post surgery, which is normal. To correct this, he has to be admitted to the hospital for a month and have his heart shocked into normal sinus rhythm. Why is this needed? Was the heart purposely left in the a-fib state, only to be returned to normal after sometime?
A:Transient atrial fibrillation after open heart surgery is seen often. It usually responds to drugs like amiodarone, which some surgeons like to continue for a few weeks to months. Most cardiovascular teams usually prefer to send the patient home in normal sinus rhythm even if cardioversion is required. However, it is the choice of the treating team. It is always preferable to bring the patient to normal rhythm even though atrial fibrillation with control of the heart rate can be resorted to in cases with frequent recurrences.