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Published on November 07, 2012

Guillaume Marçais & Atrial Fibrillation (Maze) Surgery


Guillaume Marçais
Patient: Guillaume Marçais, Boyds, MD

Location: Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital

Service: Atrial Fibrillation (Maze) Surgery

Doctor: Sean Beinart, MD

Like many parents, 37-year old Guillaume Marçais of Boyds was awakened in the middle of the night by his son. “I jumped out of bed to check on him," Marçais says. “When I went back to bed, I noticed my heart was beating really hard and fast."

Past experience told him it was atrial fibrillation, or a-fib, a common problem where “unorganized” electrical activity makes the upper part of the heart beat faster than the rest, causing an irregular heart rhythm.

Marçais went to Adventist HealthCare Germantown Emergency Center.

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I started rock climbing when I was in college in France. I was lucky that we were in the school next to Fontainebleau, which is south of Paris, and there is a wonderful outdoor bouldering area. So I started to go with them and it got the bug into me, and when I moved to the US it turns out that I was with a bunch of climbers as well and so we started to climb regularly, and it became my main focus.

I needed the possibility of ablation because I am going into atrial fibrillation. The trigger for me for atrial fibrillation isn't quite clear, although stress seems to be one of them. A couple of months ago I woke up suddenly because my son was crying in his bed, and I jumped out of bed and ran to see him, and when I went back to bed my heart wasn't doing well. To me, atrial fibrillation feels like my heart is going too fast, and is beating irregularly, and way too hard. I feel bouncing in my chest and I can actually look at my chest and see it move. At the time we discussed with a surgeon and I was the right category of people for whom the ablation would work, meaning I was young enough, that I would recover from the procedure and I was healthy as well for the same reason. The hope is to be able to avoid taking medicine when I get older.

When young athletes go into atrial fibrillation their heart just doesn't perform as well, and as a result can't do the things they want to do such as long distance running, or in Guillame's instance, climbing. So having atrial fibrillation was a true burden to his quality of life, and the ability to do the things that he wants to do. So an ablation is the ability to use a spaghetti size wire called a catheter that delivers heat energy to specific targeted areas of the heart that eliminates electrical signals at that area in a safe, very precise, and directed fashion, and as a result can eliminate the signals that trigger atrial fibrillation. We chose to pursue ablation in Guillame because the alternatives for treating atrial fibrillation include taking drugs all the time, and although drugs in a lot of patients are very attractive and appropriate alternative, in younger patients they tend to have significant side effects, and can promote the decline in quality of life that we're trying to prevent in the first place.

Washington Adventist Hospital consistently offers a very personalized approach. Patients come back to me after they've recovered from their procedure saying they've had a wonderful experience, they name staff members' names. They feel they were treated well, humanely, with compassion.

I'm feeling pretty well. So what I'm doing is I go run, I'll bike 2-3 times a week. And then during weekends I try to come climbing which is really the sport I like. You can do it for a long time, it's a good sport in that respect.

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