Cardiovascular Institute

Atrial Fibrillation

A serious but highly treatable condition, atrial fibrillation (a-fib) is an abnormal heart rhythm that often causes a rapid heart rate and poor blood flow to the body.

In normal sinus rhythm, the heart’s two chambers (the atria) and two lower chambers (the ventricles) work together to pump blood efficiently to the body. But during atrial fibrillation, the atria beat chaotically and irregularly, resulting in irregular transmission of impulses to the ventricles. The ventricles respond by beating in a disorganized fashion. The loss of coordinated activity between the top and bottom chambers causes the heart to pump less efficiently.

Some patients may have a-fib and feel no symptoms, while others may experience any of these signs:

  • Heart could beat about 120 to 180 times a minute; normal rate is about 60 to 100 beats a minute
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or fainting

If you have this condition, you can live a normal, active life with treatment. But without treatment, the major consequence of atrial fibrillation is the risk of stroke. This is because the blood is not able to move out of the top chambers of the heart efficiently when you have a-fib. Slow-moving blood tends to form clots, which can then be pumped to the brain, causing a stroke.

The experienced doctors at the Cardiovascular Institute have the expertise and state-of-the art technology and procedures to help get your heart back into a normal rhythm.

Why the Cardiovascular Institute?

Expertise and teamwork
For more than half of a century, our heart physicians have been leaders in cardiac care. The Allegheny Health Network Cardiovascular Institute’s success rates for heart procedures exceed national averages and consistently rank among the best in in the region. We have been recognized as being among the best in the country by Thompson Reuters, U.S. News and World Report, and the American Heart Association.

Innovative, groundbreaking treatments
Treatments for heart disease have become more effective over the last several decades because of forward-thinking physicians with creative ideas. And CVI doctors helplead the way in developing and implementing these advances so we can always offer you an even better chance of recovery. We use cutting-edge detection equipment and technology to find even the smallest heart abnormality, perform the most innovative techniques and surgeries to treat any heart condition, and use novel medications that treat your disease while maintaining your quality of life.
Personalized care and attention
At the Cardiovascular Institute, your care is all about you. We understand that every heart patient has different needs, circumstances and challenges and that no one treatment plan is suited for every patient. Our specialists collaborate to develop an in-depth medical strategy specific to each patient’s condition and situation. While receiving any heart-care service from us, this dedicated team works diligently to provide you with quality, compassionate and reassuring care.

Progressive research
We continually conduct new research that leads to even better ways to prevent, find and treat heart disease. Many of our patients are suitable candidates for these novel devices and clinical trials, giving them even more promising results for their heart health.

Care close to home
We know how important your time is, so we have made specialized heart care convenient for you to reach. Through our network’s seven hospitals and 20 outpatient cardiovascular offices, you can receive tests, treatments, procedures and overall heart care close to your home and in comfortable surroundings.


Find out more about this specialty at a location near you.


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