"I Survived Atrial Fibrillation"

Patient: James Ridinger

James Ridinger has a job everyone from little boys to grown men dream of attaining. While it sounds like a glamorous life, his work as a locomotive engineer is a demanding one that keeps him on his feet as he operates the train's controls.

How It All Began

Despite being relatively healthy, Ridinger had begun suffering from episodes of rapid heartbeat that interfered with both his job and leisure activities. The frequency and intensity of the episodes had gradually increased over the years, stealing time from his family and profession.

"My heart would begin to pound very hard and the worst part was that it would come on suddenly; I usually didn't notice," said Ridinger.

Ridinger visited his family physician, where he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a chaotic electrical rhythm of the heart's upper chambers, the atria. All he needed to hear was that treatment was available at St. Dominic's and he was ready to try it. 

The Turning Point

"Arrhythmia was slowly eroding my quality of life, robbing me of sleep and causing me problems at work," he said. "Also, I couldn't enjoy my time with my family because I never knew when an episode would hit."

Ridinger said his physician's knowledge from Dr. Judson Colley, a Cardiologist at St. Dominic's Mississippi Heart Institute, made him feel more comfortable about traveling to Jackson for treatment. He immediately felt at ease with Dr. Colley and his staff.

"Dr. Colley totally understood how this was negatively affecting my life," said Ridinger. "After my initial conversation with him, I was ready to do whatever he recommended."

In a procedure called radiofrequency ablation, Dr. Colley applied energy directly to the areas in Ridinger's heart that were operating abnormally. A catheter inserted in an artery near his leg supplied the energy that cauterized the heart tissue so the erratic signals were normalized.

Dr. Colley said, "Untreated, atrial fibrillation can cause stroke and heart failure. Anyone experiencing symptoms that include irregular heartbeat or pounding, chest pain or fatigue should seek medical attention."

Recovery and Life After Atrial Fibrillation

After his successful ablation procedures, Ridinger returned home to enjoy life without fibrillation episodes. Just three months post-procedure, he is working a full schedule on the railroad, walking two miles a day and mowing an acre of grass each week with a push mower.

"My energy is back and I'm feeling confident and productive," he says. "Best of all, I don't live in a continual state of anxiety, wondering when an attack will occur. I owe so much to Dr. Colley, his staff and St. Dominic's. They truly cared about me and made the entire stay so pleasant and easy.  In simple terms, they gave me my life back."



Dr. Colley totally understood how this was negatively affecting my life.

After my initial conversation with him, I was ready to do whatever he recommended.

More About James:

Who was your primary doctor during treatment at St. Dominic Hospital?
Judson Colley, MD

What were your first thoughts after diagnosis?
Arrhythmia was slowly eroding my quality of life, robbing me of sleep and causing me problems at work. I couldn't enjoy my time with my family because I never knew when an episode would hit.