Kristina EgusaKristina Egusa’s energy levels wavered throughout her adult life, making it difficult for her to stay active and on her feet. In 2019, Kristina learned through a routine physical the cause of her lack of energy: atrial fibrillation.

Atrial Fibrillation (A-fib) is the most common type of treated heart arrythmia. An arrhythmia is when the heart beats too slowly, too fast or in an irregular way.

During A-fib, the heart can beat much faster than normal, causing the heart’s upper and lower chambers to communicate poorly and not pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Symptoms of A-fib include heart palpitations, chest pain, weakness and fatigue.

After her diagnosis, Kristina’s energy levels continued to deteriorate. She tried different forms of treatment to manage her A-fib, including medication and cardioversion therapy, but nothing helped her get her energy back.

“It got to the point that I didn’t feel fatigued any more since I was so used to being out of energy,” says Egusa. “All I could do was try to get accustomed to the symptoms pushing through how tired I felt.”

During one of her appointments, her cardiologist referred her to Mark Y. Lee, M.D., medical director, electrophysiology, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center, for consultation. The MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center offers the latest in advanced technologies, nationally recognized physicians and innovative treatments to provide the complete continuum of cardiovascular care. The Institute’s care team diagnoses and treats cardiovascular issues with the most advanced, non-invasive, and minimally invasive approaches.

As the medical director of electrophysiology, Dr. Lee leads Long Beach Medical Center’s efforts for electrophysiology clinical research and education. He intends to expand research efforts for A-fib ablations to help those with persistent A-fib – one of the most diagnosed heart conditions.

Dr. Lee recommended Kristina receive an ablation to manage her A-fib. An ablation is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat A-fib by pinpointing and interrupting electrical signals causing the heart to beat abnormally.

During an ablation, a cardiac electrophysiologist inserts a catheter with an electrode tip into a blood vessel at the groin.  The electrophysiologist guides the catheter to the patient’s heart with the help of state-of-the-art computer software. The electrode then creates lesions or scars to destroy (or ablate) the location of the electrical cells causing the patient’s A-fib. 

“Ablations allow patients with A-fib to manage their A-fib with less medications,” says Dr. Lee. “Many A-fib patients are forced to live a life controlled by medication, so it’s great to offer an alternative to free patients of this burden.”

During and after her ablation with Dr. Lee, Kristina experienced the highest level of care from everyone she encountered at Long Beach Medical Center.

“I can’t say enough about the phenomenal care I received at Long Beach Medical Center,” said Egusa. “Everyone treated me with kindness and respect to make sure my every need was taken care of. It truly felt like my health and wellbeing was their number one priority.”

A month after her experience at Long Beach Medical Center, Kristina is feeling better than ever.

The difference before and after my ablation is night and day, I have so much more energy now than before and my heart rhythm is now normal. I can finally walk around my neighborhood without stopping to catch my breath.

Kristina Egusa