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Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation care at Allegheny Health Network

When functioning normally, your heart beats almost 100,000 times every day to circulate your blood through your body. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) interrupts your heart’s rhythm by creating an irregular and often rapid heart rate. This can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. 

As part of the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute, doctors at the Center for Atrial Fibrillation use state-of-the-art technology for diagnosis and treatment of patients. Atrial fibrillation is a serious, frequently chronic, and lifelong condition. Through our expert and compassionate care, we help many people lead healthy, active lives.

Our unique approach to patient care

When you come to the AHN Cardiovascular Institute, you will receive innovative care from a team of specialists. They work together to provide you with the best possible outcome. By meeting regularly to discuss your treatment plan, they are able to streamline your care and avoid duplicate tests. This can save you time and money. The AFib specialist team includes:

  • Cardiac electrophysiologists
  • Cardiologists
  • Cardiac surgeons

What is atrial fibrillation?

AFib short circuits the natural rhythm of your heartbeat by creating an irregular and often rapid heartbeat. This is called an arrhythmia. AFib is the most common form of arrhythmia and begins in the left atrium of the heart. 

During atrial fibrillation, the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat out of step with the two lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart.  When this occurs only occasionally, you may not even feel it happening.

Why should I be concerned about atrial fibrillation?

AFib is a serious condition that can cause stroke or heart failure. It can lead to blood clots in the heart, which can circulate to other organs and restrict blood flow.

If you have AFib, you may also experience heart palpitations (pounding heartbeats), shortness of breath, fatigue, and dizziness. In rare cases, prolonged rapid heart rates due to AFib can cause congestive heart failure.

Some patients may feel severe symptoms while others may not have any.

What are the treatments for atrial fibrillation?

Doctors and surgeons with the AHN Cardiovascular Institute are highly skilled and use the latest techniques and technology. Through their expertise, they aim to reduce the risk of stroke, and worsening heart disease symptoms.

Depending on your situation, we offer extensive treatment options for AFib:

  • Blood-thinning medication or anticoagulants
  • Electrical cardioversion ("DC" cardioversion)
  • Catheter-based pulmonary vein (ablation) isolation (PVI)
  • Hybrid PVI
  • Cox MAZE IV
  • Mini-MAZE