With atrial fibrillation, the electrical signals in the atria (upper chambers of the heart) are fired in a very fast and uncontrolled manner. The chambers quiver instead of contracting normally.
When the atria do not contract effectively, blood may pool and/or clot. If a blood clot becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke (brain attack) may occur. About 15 percent of strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation.
Treatment for arrhythmia
An arrhythmia is often controlled with medication. However, if you need a procedure to correct your irregular heartbeat, you will get the care you need at Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute and the Comprehensive Heart Rhythm Management Program.
We offer a complete suite of medical, surgical and catheter-based treatments for heart rhythm problems, including:
- Ablations: Using the tip of a small catheter and heat (radiofrequency) or extreme cold (cryoablation), your cardiologist scars the heart tissue responsible for sending erratic electrical signals.
- Maze procedures: Your doctor makes tiny incisions in a maze pattern on heart tissue. Scar tissue that forms around these incisions redirects the heart’s electrical signals.
- Pacemakers: We offer Micra™, the world’s smallest wire-free pacemaker, as well as MRI-compatible pacemakers. We’re also experts in cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) using biventricular pacemakers. This device keeps the right and left ventricles pumping together.
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD): ICDs work similar to pacemakers to restore a normal heartbeat. We offer a wireless subcutaneous (under-the-skin) ICD known as S-ICD.
- WATCHMAN™ device: People who have arrhythmias are prone to developing blood clots in the heart’s left atrial appendage (LAA). WATCHMAN seals off the LAA, preventing clots from entering the bloodstream. This device reduces stroke risk and can be an alternative for patients who can’t take blood thinners.
- Medication management: Some heart rhythm problems improve with medications that control heart rhythm or heart rate. You also may need blood thinners to lower stroke risk.
The Comprehensive Heart Rhythm Management Program offers ongoing care and monitoring for people with heart rhythm devices like pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).
Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) Center of Excellence
The Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) Center of Excellence is a specialized outpatient program for patients with newly diagnosed or uncontrolled AFib, offering early access to electrophysiology (EP) advanced practice clinicians with a focus on risk factor modification with fast-track referrals to partnering departments, including sleep and bariatric medicine.
Its goals are to help patients spend less time in the hospital – meaning fewer emergency room visits and hospital stays that are shorter and less frequent because you're being cared for proactively in the doctor's office.
Consult with your doctor to see if this treatment option is right for you.