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Open Chest Maze Procedure


Open chest maze procedure is heart surgery done to treat atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heartbeat. It is caused by fast random electrical messages to the heart muscle. The maze procedure makes a new heartbeat pathway that is shaped like a maze. The new pathway stops random messages and helps the heart to have a regular beat and normal rate. This procedure decreases your risk of stroke. The open chest maze procedure is usually done when other open heart surgery is needed.



  • Heart medicine: This medicine is given to strengthen or regulate your heartbeat.
  • Diuretics: This medicine is given to decrease edema (excess fluid) that collects in a part of your body, such as your legs. Diuretics can also remove excess fluid from around your heart or lungs and decrease your blood pressure. It is often called water pills. You may urinate more often when you take this medicine.
  • Blood pressure medicine: This is given to lower your blood pressure. A controlled blood pressure helps protect your organs, such as your heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. Take your blood pressure medicine exactly as directed.
  • Warfarin: This medicine helps prevent clots from forming in the blood. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. Warfarin may cause you to bleed or bruise more easily. Use a soft washcloth and an electric razor. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. You may need to change your diet. Warfarin works best when you eat the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in leafy green vegetables. Talk to your primary healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about this medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Contact your primary healthcare provider or cardiologist if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Keep a list of the medicine, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits.

Heart rhythm checks:

You may need to be monitored for arrhythmias. This will let your cardiologist or primary healthcare provider know about problems with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. Ask your cardiologist or primary healthcare provider for more information about the following:

  • You may need to use a heart monitor at home. The monitoring may be done for a period of time such as a week or at regular times such as every month until your heart rhythm is regular. The device used to monitor your heart may be called an event monitor, Holter monitor, or mobile telemetry.
  • You may be taught how to check your pulse (heartbeat).
    Picture of how to check a radial pulse

Daily weight:

Too much body fluid causes problems with your heart and lungs. Weight gain can be a sign of extra fluid in your body. Check your weight daily and write the results down. Keep track of how much your weight changes each day.

Reduce arrhythmia risk factors:

High blood pressure, sleep apnea (pauses in breathing while asleep), and obesity increase your risk of arrhythmias. Talk to your primary healthcare provider about ways to prevent or manage these risk factors.

Do not smoke:

If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information about how to stop smoking if you need help.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or cardiologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your cardiologist or primary healthcare provider if:

  • Your pulse does not feel regular when you check it.
  • You are urinating less or less often than usual.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure, medicine, or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have chest pain or pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded.
  • Call 911 or an ambulance if you have any signs of a heart attack:
    • Discomfort in the center of your chest that feels like squeezing, pressure, fullness, or pain, that lasts for more than a few minutes or keeps returning
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or one or both of your arms
    • Feeling sick to your stomach
    • Having trouble breathing
    • A sudden cold sweat, particularly in combination with chest discomfort or trouble breathing
    • Feeling very lightheaded or dizzy, particularly in combination with chest discomfort or trouble breathing
  • You have signs of a stroke: The following signs are an emergency. Call 911 immediately if you have any of the following:
    • Weakness or numbness in your arm, leg, or face (may be on only one side of your body)
    • Confusion and problems speaking or understanding speech
    • A very bad headache that may feel like the worst headache of your life
    • Not being able to see out of one or both of your eyes
    • Feeling too dizzy to stand

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.