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Atrial Fibrillation

The University of Toledo Heart and Vascular Center was the first in Northwest Ohio to do atrial fibrillation ablation and the only regional participaint in the NIH funded Cabana trail of atrial fibrillation ablation.  We have three specialists who perform Atrial Fibrillation Ablation.   The UT Atrial Fibrillation Team offers:

  • A multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to treatment 
  • Appointments within 24 hours 
  • The only specialists in the area who perform atrial fibrillation ablation 
  • Commitment to the most important members of a patient’s health-care team, the referring physician and the patient

What is Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib)? Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia and is present in more than 2 million people in the United States. Individuals with this condition experience fast, irregular focal discharges from the upper chambers of the heart which lead to fast irregular heartbeat in the lower chambers.

What causes A-Fib? The most common cause of A-Fib is high blood pressure that causes structural changes in the upper chambers of the heart. Other causes are disorders of valves and of the heart muscle itself.

What are the types of A-Fib? There are three types of A-Fib depending upon the duration of a patient’s episode:

  • Paroxysmal: Recurrent episodes of less than 24 hours
  • Persistent: Lasting up to one week
  • Chronic: Lasting more than six months

What are the complications of untreated A-Fib?

  • The most devastating complication is stroke and blood clots becoming lodged in other vital organs. 
  • Increased heart rate during atrial fibrillation can lead to heart failure and can cause symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and swelling.

What is Ablation? Ablation is a procedure that neutralizes the abnormal tissue causing the condition with energy sources such as heat, microwave, electricity, radiofrequency, ultrasound or cooling.

What does Atrial Fibrillation Ablation involve? The ablation procedure involves the destruction of the abnormal foci in the left upper chamber of heart by the energy source used.

Is this an outpatient procedure? Is it major surgery involving large incisions? Ablation is a simple procedure that does not involve incisions or stitches. Experienced cardiologists who specialize in the procedure use both groins and sometimes neck to insert small tubes under local anesthesia, so patients are awake, but mildly sedated. Patients are monitored overnight and discharged next day. Recovery is within the next day or so.

How long after the procedure will it take for me to feel a difference? The improvement in symptoms will take only days to a few weeks.

What are the potential complications of the Ablation procedure?

  • Significant complications are extremely rare and involve, stroke, heart attack, accumulation of blood around heart, perforation in food pipe (rare).
  • Less severe complications are bruising and bleeding at local site.

Will I need to continue to take my medications after Ablation? For three months after the ablation procedure, it is recommended to continue most medications. It is recommended that blood thinners be taken for six months after the procedure. Some patients are eventually taken off medication altogether.

Are there any surgical options to treat Atrial Fibrillation? Yes, there is a surgical option.  The procedure is called mini-MAZE, a minimally invasive surgery. This is done in patients who do not find relief after radio-frequency ablation. The success rate associated with this procedure is very high.

Last Updated: 1/31/19