Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Treatment
If you or a loved one experiences an abnormal heart rhythm caused by an irregular heartbeat in the upper chambers of the heart (left and right atria), this is known as atrial fibrillation (AFib). This condition is treatable. At St. Vincent’s, we are a national leader in the treatment of atrial fibrillation. We are the only hospital in the tri-state area to offer the full spectrum of AFib treatments in one location, from minimally invasive non-surgical treatments to our pioneering work in advanced convergent and hybrid ablation techniques.
St. Vincent's is now among the first hospitals in Connecticut to offer patients with non-valvular AFib an alternative to long-term warfarin medication with the newly approved Watchman Implant. This one-time procedure is an important option for people with a history or risk of serious bleeding on blood thinners.
We will work to restore the normal rhythm of your heart and to improve your quality of life. Our team approach to compassionate care is designed around your individual needs.
St. Vincent’s approach to compassionate care centers on our multi-disciplinary AFib team working together to review your symptoms and history. Our cardiologists, electrophysiologists, surgeons, and nurse specialists helps you to select the treatment best suited to your medical needs and the best option to restore your energy and lifestyle.
You will typically undergo routine tests so our care team can better determine your health status. These tests include an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) and echocardiogram (echo) to rule out structural heart disease. Additionally, we may recommend stress tests to rule out undiagnosed coronary artery disease, cardiac computed tomography (cardiac CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to help determine the best procedure for you.
Studies that examine the electrical activity of the heart, as well as treatments like implantable cardioverterdefibrillators (ICDs) and trans-catheter ablations are all performed in St. Vincent’s state-of-the-art Cardiac Electrophysiology (EP) Laboratory. We are one of only area hospitals to offer an EP lab that is nationally certified to meet stringent quality standards.
Full-Spectrum of Treatment Options
When determining how best to treat your AFib, we begin with the least invasive options such as lifestyle changes and medication. If your condition doesn't improve then consider more specialized and advanced treatments, such as non- or minimally-invasive procedures or our most advanced procedures. Even our advanced treatments utilize tiny incisions that mean less pain, smaller scars, a shorter hospital stay, and a quicker return to normal activity.
Advanced Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Procedures
Thanks to advances brought to St. Vincent’s by its surgeons and electrophysiologists, minimally invasive procedures that use radio frequency energy to create patterns of AFib-disrupting scar tissue (ablations) on either the inside or outside of the heart can be combined in a single procedure that improves the chances of a successful outcome. These include a full spectrum of treatments:
Trans-catheter ablation—a non-surgical technique in which an electrophysiologist uses an electrode catheter, inserted through the femoral vein in the leg, to reach inside the heart where radio frequency energy is used to ablate (or create scar tissue) that blocks or disrupts the electrical impulses that cause AFib.
Convergent ablation—combines in the best of trans-catheter ablation and a surgery that uses tools inserted through a single small incision in the upper abdomen to create scarring on the outside of the heart.
Hybrid ablation—combines trans-catheter ablation, which ablates inside the heart, with a surgical procedure that uses tools inserted through two or three small incisions on each side of the chest to ablate the outside of the heart. The surgeon also performs a ligation to reduce the risk of stroke. Like convergent ablation, hybrid ablation is typically used for patients with persistent AFib who otherwise have few options for minimally invasive treatments.
Cryoablation—During this minimally invasive procedure, a thin flexible tube called a balloon catheter is used to locate and freeze the heart tissue that triggers an irregular heartbeat.
Additional Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Treatment Options
At St. Vincent’s we pride ourselves at exploring alternative treatments to offer you or your loved one the most advanced medical options available. These include:
Medication to control heart rate and rhythm
Blood-thinning medication to prevent clots and stroke
Cardioversion—a procedure in which an electrical shock on the outside of the chest is used to “reset” the heart to a normal rhythm
Watchman Implant - a one-time procedure for people with a history or risk of serious bleeding on blood thinners
Pacemaker—a pager-sized device implanted in the chest that continuously monitors heartbeat, detecting and stopping dangerous, abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmias, and delivering electrical pulses to prompt a normal heart rhythm
Ligation—significantly reduces the risk of stroke in AFib patients who are intolerant of blood thinning medications by closing off a pouch-like extension on the left atrium of the heart in which blood clots can form
Biventricular Device Implants—implants that improve the symptoms of congestive heart failure and overall quality of life in certain patients with severe symptoms that aren't controlled with medication.
For more information, please telephone us at the AFib Center hotline: (203) 382-2502 or watch our informational videos at here.
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