Advanced Center for Atrial Fibrillation

Advanced Center for Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia (heart rhythm disorder). Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a fast, irregular heartbeat. At the Advanced Center for Atrial Fibrillation, our electrophysiologists (arrhythmia specialists) use the latest technology available to treat and manage AFib.

Atrial Fibrillation: Advanced Care in Tampa, FL

When you have AFib:

  • Your heart does not beat normally. This makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood efficiently to the rest of the body, depriving your body of necessary oxygen and nutrients.
  • Because your heart does not beat normally the blood may pool in the heart. This may lead to blood clots, which can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. In fact, 15 percent of all strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation.

Our electrophysiologists (EPs) use the latest catheter-based treatments and minimally invasive surgical approaches to treat AFib, leading to long-lasting, more effective treatment. Meet our team.

Learn more about care for arrhythmias at St. Joseph's Hospital.

Atrial Fibrillation: Risk Factors

Most of the time, there is no underlying heart disease causing AFib. However, there are risk factors that could increase your chances of developing the condition:

  • Being male and 55 years of age or older
  • Having:
    • Existing heart conditions
    • Lung disease
    • Chronic medical conditions, such as overactive thyroid and diabetes
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine
  • Taking certain medications
  • Stress
  • Smoking

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Some people with AFib do not experience any symptoms, only finding out that they have the condition during an examination.

Symptoms of AFib may include:

  • Heart palpitations, a feeling that your heart is racing
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain

It’s important to call 911 immediately whenever you experience chest pain as it can be a symptom of a heart attack.

If you suspect you may have AFib, don't hesitate to make an appointment with your physician. Need a cardiac specialist? Find a doctor online or request a referral via our online form.

Diagnosing Atrial Fibrillation

The diagnosis of AFib begins with a comprehensive physical examination, a review of your medical history, and discussing any physical symptoms you may be experiencing with your physician or clinical electrophysiologist. Additional diagnostic testing may also be ordered to properly diagnose AFib including:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram (echo), an ultrasound of your heart
  • Holter monitor test, which monitors your heart's activity over a period of time
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG), a measure of your heart's electrical activity

Treating Atrial Fibrillation

At St. Joseph's Hospital, we use a vast array of procedures to treat atrial fibrillation (AFib). We perform these procedures in our sophisticated electrophysiology labs, equipped with advanced imaging systems and heart mapping technology. Learn more about our electrophysiology (EP) labs at the Heart Institute.

The main goals of AFib treatment are to control your heart rate and prevent blood clots. Our physicians use the latest procedures to treat AFib. These new procedures, including minimally invasive techniques, lead to:

  • Increased quality of life
  • Decreased symptoms of AFib
  • Decreased use of medication

Each patient's treatment plan differs. Here are some treatment options we may use:

  • Lifestyle changes. We may recommend that you avoid stimulants, such as caffeine. Alcohol can also act as a trigger in some people.
  • Cardioversion. During this procedure, we use an electrical current or medication to regulate your heart rhythm.
  • Ablation procedures. We destroy the area of the heart tissue that is causing the erratic heartbeat. There are different types of ablation procedures. We will work with you to determine which approach will offer you the best outcome. Learn more about ablation procedures for atrial fibrillation.
  • Convergent procedure. This is a hybrid procedure combines both catheterization and electrophysiology. Learn more about the convergent procedure for atrial fibrillation.
  • Cox Maze surgery. During this complex procedure, your surgeon stops the abnormal electrical impulses. Learn more about the Cox Maze surgery for atrial fibrillation.
  • Cryoablation. This process uses extreme cold to destroy the heart tissue causing atrial fibrillation. Our physicians were the first in the country to successfully treat atrial fibrillation with cyroablation. In addition, the Heart Institute is the only center in Florida participating in the first clinical trial using an advanced catheter for this procedure.

To learn more: Atrial fibrillation FAQs

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