Atrial Fibrillation Service
Atrial fibrillation is a chaotic rhythm of the top chambers of the heart (the atria). A normal heart beats the same constant rhythm, about 60 to 100 times per minute. A person with atrial fibrillation has a chaotic heartbeat of 400 to 600 beats per minute. Most atrial fibrillation originates from the pulmonary veins, tubes that direct blood from the lungs to the atria. Chaotic heart beats can take over control of the heart.
More than two million Americans have atrial fibrillation. It is this country's most common irregular heart rhythm. Atrial fibrillation causes stroke, congestive heart failure and a host of disabling symptoms.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common abnormal heart rhythm. No patient can be treated the same way. Our dedicated team takes the time to provide an individualized treatment plan that his right for each patient.
Pulmonary Vein Antrum Isolation
Pulmonary vein antrum isolation is a technique where energy is delivered to the region that connects the pulmonary veins to the atria (ablation), thereby eliminating electrical conduction. The chaotic beats are therefore rendered harmless. This procedure is performed safely and most patients are discharged to home the following day. Learn more about pulmonary vein antrum isolation.
Pacemakers are small devices inserted under the skin that can help maintain a regular heart rhythm. Soft flexible wires are inserted into the heart and attached to the pacemaker. In some patients with atrial fibrillation, pacemakers, along with medication, can help regulate the heart rhythm. Our cardiologists have access to the most advanced pacemakers and have refined the techniques for implantation. Learn more about pacemakers.
Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy
Our physicians are experts in prescribing and assessing the success of various drugs designed to maintain normal heart rhythm. For many patients, merely controlling the heart rate and thinning the blood may be appropriate. Maintaining normal heart rhythm can:
- Increase exercise capacity
- Reduce symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath
- Control the heart rate optimally and reduce palpitation (the feeling of an irregular heartbeat)
Anticoagulation Drug Therapy
Anticoagulants or blood thinners, are used to prevent stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. The primary anticoagulant is warfarin (Coumadin). Not all patients need warfarin, but for many, warfarin is very effective in preventing stroke. Warfarin can cause bleeding and thus patients should be monitored closely. Our anticoagulation clinic has experts who carefully keep patients in the safe, therapeutic range.