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Piedmont patient overcomes atrial fibrillation with procedure
by Staff Reports
September 26, 2012 12:51 AM | 1864 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
September is National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, and the condition, commonly called AFib, is a growing epidemic that affects nearly 69,000 people in Georgia and 2.6 million across the U.S., according to the AF Stat, a working group advocating for atrial fibrillation awareness, the Piedmont Heart Institute in Buckhead announced last week in a news release. However, many more go undiagnosed.

While AFib doubles the risk of death from heart-related causes, increases the risk of stroke five-fold, and raises the risk of hospitalization, many patients do not understand the serious, often deadly health issues associated with the disease.

“Atrial fibrillation is a totally disorganized and chaotic rhythm in the upper chambers of the heart,” said Dr. Andy Wickliffe, an electrophysiologist at Piedmont. “It tends to make the lower chambers, or ventricles, beat fast and irregularly.”

That disorganized and chaotic rhythm is exactly what Ray Crisp, of Fayetteville, had felt for years before he went in to a hospital for back surgery and doctors discovered he suffered from atrial fibrillation.

“You can be sitting around watching TV and all of a sudden, it feels like your heart is pounding out of your chest. You get a really rapid heartbeat, start feeling bad and get short of breath,” said Crisp. “This went on for years and I kind of got used to it. I didn’t know I was actually suffering from AFib.”

Other symptoms of AFib include dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue when exercising and chest pain or pressure, according to the American Heart Association. To correct atrial fibrillation, a doctor may perform an ablation, using a catheter to go into the heart and destroy the tissue that is causing the irregularity.

Information: (404) 605-2800 or visit

Hospital collecting cord blood

In other news, in a news release Piedmont announced Sunday it has received a grant from the Abraham J. and Phyllis Katz Foundation that will assist the facility in becoming a public cord blood collection center and the first hospital in Atlanta to partner with the nonprofit Cleveland Cord Blood Center in Ohio.

Cord blood is rich in blood-forming cells that can be used in transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and other life-threatening blood diseases. After a mother consents to donate her baby’s umbilical cord and once the baby is born, the donated unit is then registered and sent to the FACT (Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy)-accredited center for use by transplant centers working to save the lives of patients all over the world.

“We’re excited the Cleveland Cord Blood Center chose to partner with Piedmont Atlanta,” Piedmont President and CEO Les Donahue said in a statement. “Each year, approximately 3,500 babies are delivered at the hospital. If even a fraction of those babies’ cord blood is donated, think how many lives would be saved.”

Right now, 169 people in Georgia are searching for an unrelated donor match to save their lives, according to An unrelated donor match may come from donors providing bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood stem cells.

Parents interested in donating their baby’s umbilical cord after their birth should discuss it with their obstetrician or contact Piedmont during their pregnancy.

There is no cost to the family when donating a baby’s umbilical cord to the center.

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