New clinical trial helps patient with Afib

Unlike those whose atrial fibrillation (Afib) is permanent, Jeffrey “Jeff” G.’s Afib only occurs once in a while. And even then, his irregular heartbeat can be so mild that he doesn’t even feel it.

Still, even though Jeff’s Afib is intermittent — a condition known as paroxysmal atrial fibrillation — he has joined a clinical trial at the HonorHealth Research Institute under the care of Thomas Mattioni, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist, for a medication which is intended to prevent Jeff’s Afib from triggering a stroke.

The medication is one of a new generation of oral anticoagulants aimed at preventing thromboembolism, a condition in which a blood clot that has formed inside a blood vessel or inside the heart subsequently breaks off, travels through the bloodstream and plugs another blood vessel, causing organ damage, such as a stroke that cuts off oxygen to the brain.

Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation occurs when the heart's upper chambers (atria) quiver or beat irregularly, affecting the blood flow to the rest of the body. Unlike persistent Afib, which is constant, paroxysmal Afib episodes can start suddenly and stop on their own. People with this condition may experience heart palpitations, dizziness or shortness of breath. It's important to manage and treat paroxysmal Afib to reduce the risk of complications like stroke.

The path to diagnosis

Five years ago, Jeff experienced what he calls “a sense of wooziness” with fuzzy vision and speech difficulty. “I was with a friend and was having a problem putting sentences together coherently,” he recalls.

The condition lasted about 15 to 20 minutes. But since he didn’t seek medical attention, he went undiagnosed. Several weeks later, he saw a doctor who fitted him with a heart monitor. Over the course of a month, the monitor detected nothing unusual. Still, Dr. Mattioni placed a semi-permanent heart monitor the size of a matchstick under the skin of his upper chest.

Last summer, while Jeff was vacationing in London, the monitor detected Afib, though Jeff sensed nothing. “I felt completely normal,” he says.

It was after that incident that Dr. Mattioni asked Jeff to consider joining the clinical trial. Since last summer, Jeff has not recorded any incidence of Afib. “I’ve had no experiences — no incidents — since I’ve been in the study,” he shares.

HonorHealth patient, Jeffrey G

Maintaining a healthy mind and body

Jeff — who served in the Marines from 1961-67 — still works out with weights and rides a programable stationary bike. “I think that some form of exercise on a daily basis is important,” he says.

The retired Scottsdale attorney — who spent most of his career as a litigator before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., one of the nation’s 13 federal appeals courts — eats well and maintains hobbies, such as practicing his pistol, rifle and shotgun proficiency at shooting ranges.

But what he is most looking forward to in the coming years is spending quality time with his family, including his wife, daughter, son-in-law and grandchild. “My wife (Angela) must be an angel for having stayed with me for 60 years,” Jeff says.

And he is most grateful for participating the HonorHealth Research Institute clinical trial, and for all the doctors and nurses, especially the assistance he’s received from Katrina and Nicole, whom he called “top-notch professionals.”

“They’re highly professional, very thorough, very detailed, very easy to work with, and they have marvelous patient manners,” he shares. “They’re at the top of their profession. They leave nothing to doubt.”

Exploring treatment options for a heart condition?

The HonorHealth Research Institute’s clinical trials focus on medical devices and medications that can improve the treatment of cardiovascular conditions, including atrial fibrillation, pacemaker/ICD implants, coronary artery disease and valve replacements.

Explore heart clinical trials