What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation, commonly known as “Afib,” is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that originates in the atria—the top chambers of the heart. It is the most common arrhythmia and affects millions of people.
During Afib, the electrical impulses of the heart do not start in the normal area. Instead, they start in different areas of the atria and spread out chaotically, making the heartbeat irregular.
Afib is stressful because it can be so unpredictable, occurring at almost any time, and lasting minutes, hours or days. Patients may be afraid to travel or attend social events for fear of experiencing Afib.
Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
Symptoms can vary greatly. Some people have few symptoms or none at all, while others are aware the exact moment they go into Afib. Many patients report feeling:
- Heart pounding
- Shortness of breath
- Chest discomfort
- Decreased ability to exercise
UR Medicine's Treatments for Atrial Fibrillation
- Ablation therapy. A small wire is passed through a blood vessel up to the heart to create scar tissue that isolates abnormal electrical signals. Ablation therapy is the only treatment that offers a potential cure for this arrhythmia. No incisions are needed, and the patient will often go home within 24 hours.
- Rate-controlling strategy. Several medications can help control the heart rate. This is important because very fast, uncontrolled heart rates can weaken the heart muscl and cause heart failure.
- Rhythm-controlling strategy. Keeping the heart beating normally can be done with either electrical cardioversion or special medications that can control Afib. However, medications can’t be expected to cure Afib. Treating AF with medications requires faithful, continued usage.
- Left Atrial Appendage Closure. This procedure is a non-medication method to reduce stroke risk in non-valvular atrial fibrillation patients.
It’s vital to reduce the risk of clots and stroke through medications such as the newer direct oral anticoagulants (Eliquis, Xarelto, Pradaxa, or Savaysa) or Warfarin, depending on each individual patient’s risk.
What Sets Us Apart?
UR Medicine Cardiac Care is a world leader in heart rhythm disorders. Doctors here led research that has changed the way arrhythmias are treated around the world.
Other medical centers use our guidelines when deciding which patients need treatment for serious cardiac rhythm problems. We offer the most advanced and effective treatments for heart rhythm disorders and perform more of them than any other hospital in the Rochester area. In many cases, the treatments we provide are unavailable elsewhere in the region.
We have three fully equipped labs for ablation and device implants. These labs are staffed by nurses and technicians who work exclusively on heart rhythm disorders. Our newest lab provides robotic navigation for radiofrequency ablation, giving our patients even greater precision, safety, and versatility.
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