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Heart Center | The Atrial Fibrillation Center

The Program  |  Treatment Options  |  Services

The Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) Center at Hartford Hospital is the first in the region to offer comprehensive evaluation and management services for patients suffering from A-Fib.

The center brings together a multi-disciplinary team of cardiac care experts that is focused on collaborating to find the best treatment for each patient, whether that be therapy with medications or more advanced procedural options.

The Program

What is Atrial Fibrillation?
A-Fib is the most common abnormal heart rhythm, with approximately 3 millions Americans currently affected and millions more expected to develop the condition over the coming years. Patients with A-Fib are at increased risk for having a stroke and they can suffer from symptoms like palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue. The last decade has seen an explosion in the options available to help treat A-Fib.

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Treatment Options

Medications
The initial therapy for A-Fib is usually medication. The physicians at Hartford Hospital have extensive experience in the use of medications that are used to treat A-Fib. These range from drugs that control the heart rate to antiarrhythmic drugs that can suppress the A-Fib. Our experts can help patients and their doctors navigate the broad array of medical options. When medications fail to restore a normal heartbeat, there are a variety of procedures that help patients get their rhythm back.

Catheter Ablation
Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that can reduce symptoms and restore the heart’s normal rhythm in the majority of patients who don’t respond to medications. The ablation procedure is performed via small punctures in the leg veins. During the procedure the doctor can map out the heart’s electrical system and find and destroy problem areas, either with radiofrequency energy (heat) or cryo-therapy (cold). Hartford Hospital was the first hospital in the state to offer this procedure, and the team in the Electrophysiology Lab continues to do so with safety and efficacy.

Learn more about Catheter Ablation.

Hartford Hospital Electrophysiologists (EPs) perform 200+ ablations annually, and they have extensive experience in the ablation of A-Fib.

Surgical Ablation
In some patients, a surgical approach ("Maze" procedure) to control A-Fib is necessary. Typically, these patients have A-Fib as a result of valvular heart disease or they also need bypass surgery for clogged coronary arteries. Some patients may not be candidates for catheter ablation because they are not expected to respond to the procedure. The surgeons at Hartford Hospital have expertise in both the traditional open-heart surgery and the minimally invasive Maze surgery (“Mini Maze”), which is a technique used to surgically treat atrial fibrillation, without the need to open the chest. It is performed using small incisions and special surgical tools, leading to shorter recovery time and lower risk of infection. These MAZE procedures are performed in conjunction with an electrophysiologist. Our surgeons are also expert at the removal or closure of the left atrial appendage (small lip of extra tissue on the left side of the heart where it is thought that many stroke-causing blood clots form), which might be necessary in some patients.

Learn more about the Mini Maze Procedure.

Pacemakers
In some cases, patients with A-Fib require implantation of a pacemaker in order to fully stabilize their heart’s rhythm. The doctors at Hartford Hospital are experts in the implantation, programming, and follow-up of pacemakers, as well as all other implanted cardiac rhythm devices.

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Beyond our focus on caring for our patients today, we are dedicated to caring for the patients of tomorrow through active participation in research. In particular, Hartford Hospital is among a limited number of hospitals nationwide selected to participate in the NIH-sponsored CABANA study, which is the largest study to date of catheter ablation.

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Services

Atrial Fibrillation

The Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) Center at Hartford Hospital is the first in the region to offer comprehensive evaluation and management services for patients suffering from A-Fib.

Cardioversion

A cardioversion is a procedure which is used to convert an abnormal heart rhythm (usually atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter) back to a normal heart rhythm (normal sinus rhythm).

Catheter Ablation

Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency energy (heat) or cryo-therapy (cold) to destroy small areas of heart muscle that give rise to the electrical signals that cause rapid or irregular heart rhythms.

ICD Implantation

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small battery-operated device. It is placed in the chest to monitors the heart’s rhythm.

Heart Monitors

A Holter monitor is a device which is capable of recording your heart rhythm onto a tape or memory card over a period of 24 hours.

Pacemakers

A pacemaker is a small electronic device which is implanted in people for a slow heart rhythm (bradycardia).

Tilt Table Testing

A tilt table test is a procedure used to help determine the cause of someone with syncope (passing out episodes).

Electrophysiology Study (EPS)

An electrophysiology study (EPS or EP study) is a test used to better understand the electrical system of the heart.