Heart rhythm and AFib care in Middle Tennessee | Ascension
Electrophysiologist Dr. Kaiser at Ascension Saint Thomas Heart in procedure room with scrubs.

Heart rhythm and AFib care in Middle Tennessee

Give your heart the attention it deserves. Appointments are available with leading AFib specialists at Ascension Saint Thomas Heart in Middle Tennessee.

When you notice a change in your heartbeat, such as a flutter or quiver in your chest, don’t delay. Start a conversation about your new symptoms with a cardiologist at Ascension Saint Thomas Heart. Your doctor may also connect you to an electrophysiologist. Electrophysiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating atrial fibrillation (AFib), a type of arrhythmia in which your heartbeat is irregular, either too fast or too slow. Other symptoms may include chest pain, sweating, fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness. Your doctor starts by listening to understand you and uses diagnostic testing to help determine the cause of your irregular heartbeat.

Your doctor may recommend a series of tests. EKGs, heart monitors and other diagnostic tests that are used to help detect an irregular heartbeat. These tests help your doctor understand the cause of your irregular heartbeat. Then, your doctor works with you on a care plan that is right for you. Treatment may include medication, ablation or surgery.

Getting the right care can help prevent heart failure

AFib may come and go and affect how your heart pumps blood through your body, increasing your risk for stroke and congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure is a chronic condition that gets worse over time. Getting treatment sooner may help slow the progression and relieve symptoms. Electrophysiologists at Ascension Saint Thomas Heart are part of a national team of doctors, sharing best practices, and we provide advanced treatment options, including:

  • Ablation for atrial fibrillation and flutter
  • Ablation for ventricular tachycardia and supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
  • Antiarrhythmic medications
  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)
  • Electrical cardioversion
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) insertion
  • Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) /WATCHMAN™
  • Pacemaker/ICD lead extraction using a laser system
  • Pacemaker insertion

Sometimes, structural or heart valve damage can cause AFib. If surgery is recommended as part of your care plan, your doctor will use minimally invasive options whenever possible. Our heart surgeons specialize in robotic surgery and minimally invasive techniques to help repair your heart valve. During a minimally invasive procedure, tiny incisions are made. Minimally invasive surgery may help shorten your recovery time and lower your risk of infection.

By receiving the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines® - AFIB Gold quality achievement award, Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital is nationally recognized for its commitment to quality improvement in AFib care, ultimately helping to reduce patients’ stroke risk.

Get a second opinion for your AFib diagnosis or care plan

Get the confidence and peace of mind that your doctor and cardiovascular care plan for AFib are right for you. It's easy to get a second opinion at Ascension Saint Thomas Heart. We can review your medical records and healthcare history to answer your questions and discuss options for restoring or correcting your heart’s rhythm. Talk with one of our doctors about a personalized heart care plan.

When you are facing a new diagnosis or are deciding on a surgical or therapeutic treatment plan, there’s a lot to think about. If you are looking for a second opinion for advanced heart care, our cardiologists can also connect you with the right specialists for minimally invasive surgery, including WATCHMAN and ablation. Our heart and vascular specialists can provide a second opinion, based on our experience and as part of a national care team.

Before your appointment, check with your insurance company to find out if a second opinion is covered. We can request your medical records on your behalf, so that they can be shared with your care team before your arrival.


Heart care that focuses on the whole you

Your specialists and care team collaborate, working together for you and with you. Every appointment with your doctor starts with a conversation about any new symptoms, concerns or questions. At Ascension Saint Thomas Heart, your care team supports you before, during and after an AFib procedure to help you return to the regular daily activities you love. Your doctor works with you to monitor your heart health over time, including connecting you with cardiac rehabilitation and helping manage your medications to make sure they are working well for you.

Frequently asked questions about AFib

  • Is atrial fibrillation (AFib) a serious heart condition?

    AFib is the most commonly treated heart arrhythmia and can increase risk of stroke and heart failure. A heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, is when your heart rhythm is either too fast or too slow. The first step in getting the care you need is to start a conversation with your doctor about new symptoms, health history and risk for heart disease. Your doctor starts with advanced diagnostics and may connect you to an electrophysiologist who delivers advanced care for heart rhythm disorders.

  • Is AFib a long-term heart condition?

    AFib can happen over a short period of time or be a permanent heart condition. Risk factors for AFib increase with age and high blood pressure. AFib can also be present with or without symptoms. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns. Your doctor may recommend an EKG to evaluate your heart rhythm. If you have already been diagnosed with AFib, talk to your doctor about medications to help regulate your heartbeat or prevent blood clots that may lead to stroke. Electrophysiologists may perform the latest non-surgical and minimally invasive treatments, such as:

    • Ablation
    • Cardioversion
    • Implanted pacemaker
    • Ventricular assist device
    • WATCHMAN™ device
  • What are the four types of AFib?

    AFib is a progressive heart condition that ranges from short and infrequent episodes to a permanent heart condition. The four types of AFib include:

    • Paroxysmal AFib - a brief episode that lasts less than 24 hours or up to a week
    • Persistent AFib - lasts more than a week and may need additional treatment to regulate heartbeat
    • Long-standing persistent AFib - lasts more than a year without improving
    • Permanent AFib - when AFib does not get better with treatment

    Symptoms of AFib vary and can include:

    • Chest pain
    • Extreme fatigue
    • Heart palpitations (rapid, fluttering, or pounding)
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Lightheadedness
    • Shortness of breath

    Don’t wait when you have concerns about your heart. Start a conversation with your doctor if you have symptoms of AFib.

  • How does an EKG help diagnose AFib?

    Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a test that measures your heart’s electrical activity. This includes your heart rate and heart rhythm. Your doctor uses an EKG to detect a normal or irregular heartbeat. A rapid or irregular heartbeat is a symptom of AFib or another heart arrhythmia. An EKG may be part of your annual physical exam and a common test during a cardiology appointment.

  • What is the most common treatment for AFib?

    AFib treatment often begins with medicines to control the heart's rhythm and rate. Treatment may also begin with blood-thinning medicine that can help prevent blood clots from forming and help reduce the risk of ischemic stroke. Healthy lifestyle changes can also help manage AFib symptoms. Minimally invasive procedures may be the recommended treatment for an irregular heartbeat, including ablation, cardioversion, implanted pacemaker and other devices such as the WATCHMAN™. As your heart care needs change, get the care that’s right for you, from routine heart care to advanced heart care. You’ll find that managing long-term and chronic heart care needs is easier with a team to support you.

  • What is a heart ablation?

    Cardiac ablation is a minimally invasive option for treating AFib. During the procedure, your doctor uses a catheter to target the abnormal cells causing your arrhythmia. There are two types of catheter ablation: radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation. Radiofrequency ablation uses heat, while cryoablation uses cold to destroy abnormal cells affecting your heartbeat. Talk to your doctor about your AFib symptoms and what is right for your care plan.

  • How do I find a cardiologist near me?

    Find a doctor by calling or scheduling an appointment online. Ask if a virtual visit is an option for your care. Need a second opinion appointment? Our team can help. Schedule a consultation today.


Dr. Ricardo Lugo and the heart care team at Ascension Saint Thomas using the latest electrophysiology procedures for our patients.