Most people with AFib can be successfully treated and lead active lives. Treatment can help restore normal heart rhythm, control heart rate and prevent stroke.
Atrial fibrillation, the most common arrhythmia, is a serious condition that causes an irregular, and often fast, heartbeat. This makes the heart pump blood less effectively, may weaken the heart and potentially lead to stroke or heart failure.
Atrial fibrillation can be caused by a number of factors, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and valvular heart disease.
Rush offers an atrial fibrillation clinic where electrophysiologists focus exclusively on diagnosing and caring for this common heartbeat irregularity. As specialists, these doctors closely monitor you and help you reduce risk factors, so your heart can maintain a healthy rhythm.
Types of Atrial Fibrillation
There are four types of atrial fibrillation:
- Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: This type of atrial fibrillation comes and goes on its own or ends over a period of several days.
- Persistent atrial fibrillation: This type of atrial fibrillation continues for more than seven days or until you receive medical treatment.
- Longstanding persistent atrial fibrillation: This is type of atrial fibrillation can be continuous for more than a year.
- Permanent atrial fibrillation: If you are diagnosed with permanent atrial fibrillation, you and your physician will discuss and decide together to stop any further treatment, as in this case, treatment can't help restore your heart's rhythm.
If you have a chronic condition, such as sleep apnea, diabetes and asthma, you have a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation than people who do not have these conditions.
Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms
Symptoms of atrial fibrillation may include the following:
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation at Rush
Treatment for atrial fibrillation focuses on restoring normal heart rhythm, controlling your heart rate and preventing strokes. Specialists offer the full spectrum treatment options, including the following:
- Lifestyle modifications, such as eating a healthy diet and quitting smoking, can improve your overall heart health.
- Medications may be used to regulate your heartbeat. The most commonly used types of medications for the treatment of atrial fibrillation are anti-arrhythmic drugs, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers and anticoagulants.
- Watchman device is an alternative to blood thinner medications (e.g., warfarin) for people with non-valvular AFib (atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem). Watchman is a heart implant that can lower your risk of stroke compared to lifelong use of warfarin.
- Cardiac pacemaker are small devices placed inside the chest or with a catheter through a vein in your leg, used if you have a slow heart rate to bring your heart back into normal rhythm. These devices allow you to lead an active life with the freedom of not being tied to a large machine.
- Cardiac ablation is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. A physician uses a catheter through a vein or artery in your leg to reach the heart and deliver heat, cold or laser therapy to the tissue in the area of your heart that causes your atrial fibrillation.
- VASCADE MVP is a vessel closure device that helps you get back on your feet in as little as two hours — rather than the typical recovery period of four to six hours — after cardiac ablation. The shorter recovery period with the VASCADE MVP device also typically means you'll require less pain medication after an ablation. Rush is the first hospital in Illinois to offer this device to its patients.
Rush Excellence in Atrial Fibrillation
- Expertise you can trust: Specialists at Rush are dedicated to diagnosing and treating atrial fibrillation. We offer complete team care, including participating in clinical trials for new therapies and procedures that are improving AFib treatment.
- Advanced monitoring: Rush offers wireless monitoring of pacemakers and defibrillators. With wireless monitoring, your doctor will be alerted quickly if your heart rhythm changes and requires a medication adjustment.
- State-of-the-art treatments: Our experts are dedicated to helping patients lead longer, healthier lives. That's why they are leading the way in bringing the latest treatment innovations for atrial fibrillation to patients — from leadless pacemakers and His bundle pacing, to VASCADE MVP, a vessel closure device that dramatically reduces the recovery period after cardiac electrophysiology procedures such as catheter ablation.
- Pioneers in ablation innovation: Electrophysiologists at Rush were among the first in Illinois to perform ablation using the HeartLight Endoscopic Ablation System, which allows them to see inside a beating heart while delivering laser energy during ablation. This enhanced visualization means surgeons can more accurately pinpoint and apply laser heat to the precise area of your heart where the extra electrical signals are being produced. Ultimately this advantage may reduce the likelihood that you will need a repeat ablation procedure.
- Rush Arrhythmia Center: The expert team at the Rush Arrhythmia Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago specializes in caring for irregular heart rhythms. We offer a full spectrum of options for treating arrhythmias and access to the latest clinical trials and innovative technology that helps our patients and us better understand and reduces the risk of cardiac arrhythmias and its related symptoms.
- Atrial fibrillation clinic: Rush offers an atrial fibrillation clinic where our team focuses exclusively on managing and treating patients to help modify risk factors and slow down progression of this chronic disease. Our dedicated team of experts will help to coordinate your care, tailoring a multidisciplinary treatment plan that specifically meets your needs.
- Among the best in the nation: U.S News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center among the best in the nation for cardiology and heart surgery care.
- Expertise in reducing your stroke risk: AFib and other heart conditions can cause strokes. If you have AFib and have had a stroke, the team at Rush’s comprehensive Stroke-Cardiology Clinic can help prevent you from having another. Our cardiology and vascular neurology experts work together to create your customized treatment plan, using their expertise in medical therapies, minimally invasive procedures and risk reduction strategies.