Heart and Vascular Health

Advancing care for heart rhythm disorders

Ascension Saint Thomas electrophysiologists specialize in heart rhythm disorders, including atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Electrophysiology and AFib

To request more information, please complete the information request form:  Request More Information

To schedule an appointment with an electrophysiologist, please call 800-345-5016.

Ascension Saint Thomas Heart electrophysiologists are extensively trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of heart rhythm conditions including:

  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Atrial flutter
  • Supraventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Bradycardia
  • Sick sinus syndrome
  • Heart block

Electrophysiology is the study of the electrical activity in the heart. An arrhythmia affects the rhythm of the heartbeat. An abnormal heart rhythm may start in the atria (the upper chambers of the heart) or the ventricles (the bottom chambers of the heart) which provide the main pumping of blood through the body). During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.

Treatment options include:

  • Antiarrhythmic medications
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs)
  • Pacemaker insertion
  • Catheter ablation
  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)
  • Electrical cardioversion
  • Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC)
  • Pacemaker and ICD lead extraction using a laser system

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation, commonly referred to as AF or AFib, is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia. The American Heart Association estimates that over 2.7 – 6.1 million Americans are living with AFib. During atrial fibrillation:

  • A rapid, disorganized rhythm starts in the upper chambers (atria) of the heart, causing the lower chambers (ventricles) to beat irregularly.
  • Because of the rapid, irregular electrical signals, the atria “quiver” instead of contract normally.
  • As a result, the atria do not squeeze blood effectively into the ventricles, causing the ventricles to beat irregularly, sometimes fast and sometimes slow.

Left atrial appendage closure

Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) is a treatment strategy to reduce the risk of left atrial appendage blood clots from entering the bloodstream and causing a stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.

In non-valvular AFib, more than 90 percent of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the left atrial appendage. While the most common treatment for AFib stroke risk is treatment with blood-thinning medications, some patients find that blood-thinning medications can be difficult to tolerate or are risky.

In select patients, doctors may recommend an alternative to blood thinner medication, most often an LAAC implanted device. LAAC devices help reduce AFib stroke risk but does not cure AFib or completely prevent the risk of stroke.

WATCHMAN™ is an LAAC devices. This self-expanding device helps filter potential blood clots in the appendage. filter initially but becomes covered with a patient's own cells within 45 days. There are tines on the outside of the device that act to stabilize and hold it in place.

For more information about the WATCHMAN™ implant as well as to determine if you are a candidate for this type of therapy, please call Saint Thomas Heart (Midtown) at 615-329-5144 or Ascension Saint Thomas West or 615-269-4545.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an electrophysiologist, please call 800-345-5016.

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