When making treatment recommendations, your doctor will take into account the severity of your symptoms, whether symptoms have been ongoing or have just recently appeared and your past medical history to determine how other factors may be contributing to your condition, such as alcohol or caffeine intake.
Initial treatment for many atrial fibrillation (AFib) patients usually includes anti-coagulant medications to reduce the chance of a blood clot forming, and anti-arrythmic medications to regulate the heartbeat so it's not beating too fast or erratically.
Treatment may also include any of the following:
- Electrophysiology study
- Cardiac ablation
- Pulmonary vein isolation (PVI)
- Modified Maze procedure
- Implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs)
Electrophysiology studies help pinpoint the location and type of heart rhythm disturbance present by showing how the electrical impulses are moving through the heart.
Cardiac ablation is used to correct heart rhythm disorders. A specialized catheter containing a wire and electrode is inserted into the vein in the groin and is carefully threaded through blood vessels and into the heart. Heat energy is then emitted to scar or destroy tissue responsible for the abnormal heart rhythm.
PVI is a cardiac ablation where catheters are inserted through the veins in the groin and threaded through blood vessels to the heart to electrically isolate the pulmonary veins from the rest of the heart.
Ablation is used to treat many heart rhythm disturbances such as AFib. About 95% of AFib is triggered by the cells and muscle fibers found in the pulmonary veins. If the pulmonary veins are isolated, the electrical "triggers" responsible for causing AFib can be greatly reduced and as a result the symptoms associated with AFib can be eliminated or significantly reduced.
Summa electrophysiologists perform the PVI procedure using advanced technologies, including:
- 3D electronic mapping systems to pinpoint areas of the heart causing A-Fib
- Intracardiac echocardiography
- High-resolution fluoroscopy
- Ablative strategies which use either radiography or heat energy sources
Modified Maze procedure is an open heart surgical procedure for patients with valvular or ischemic heart disease and/or long-standing persistent AFib.
An ICD is a small, battery-powered receiver which is implanted under the skin just below the collarbone. It contains a pulse generator which is comprised of a computer, a battery and lead wires. The leads are in contact with the heart muscle on one end, and the pulse generator on the other end. The ICD helps detect when a patient's heart is beating dangerously fast and delivers a life-saving electrical shock, often described by patients as a "kick in the chest," which returns the rapid heart rate back to a normal rhythm. The devices can also act as pacemakers and can prevent too slow heart rhythms by delivering pacing signals to the heart muscle.
ICDs are pre-programmed to send electrical signals to the heart, and can also "communicate" with a special device which provides information about the patient's heart rhythms and the overall condition of the ICD device. Just as with pacemakers, ICDs require routine monitoring and follow-up care to ensure the device continues to function properly.
Pacemakers are small, battery-powered devices that are used to regulate the heart beat when it is beating too slowly (bradycardia). The device, which is about the size of a large wrist watch, weighs barely an ounce, and is comprised of leads and a pulse generator. The leads are wires that are carefully threaded through the veins into the heart and touch the heart muscle. The pulse generator is implanted into the body just below the collarbone. When the pacemaker senses the heart is beating too slowly, an electrical impulse is delivered to the heart muscle, causing it to contract and beat faster.
Getting a pacemaker does not require open-heart surgery since the device is implanted into a small pocket made in the skin right under the collarbone. Once implanted, routine monitoring and follow-up are necessary to ensure the device continues to function properly.
To schedule an appointment, call (888) 496-7168 or complete the appointment form on the right. To learn more about Summa's AFib Program, download your free A Patient's Guide to AFib Treatment.