Abnormal Heart Rhythm

Nationally Recognized Center for Atrial Fibrillation Care

As one of the first specialized electrophysiology centers in the country, our Atrial Fibrillation Center at University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute provides state-of-the-art diagnostics, management and treatment of atrial fibrillation, a condition that increases the risk of stroke and congestive heart failure.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is an abnormal heart rhythm. During AFib, the signal to start the heartbeat is disorganized, causing the upper chambers or atria of the heart to quiver or fibrillate. The contraction of the atria and the ventricles is no longer coordinated and the amount of blood pumped out to the body varies with each heartbeat. This can lead to blood pooling, increasing the risk of forming blood clots. These clots can then break off and lodge in an artery leading to the brain, which is why AFib significantly increases your risk for stroke.

Understanding Atrial Fibrillation Risk Factors

AFib can occur from a range of conditions that change the heart’s electrical system. The risk of AFib increases as you age mostly because the risk for heart disease and other conditions that can cause AFib also increase as you get older.

AFib is more common in those who have:

AFib is also more likely to happen due to stress from an infection such as pneumonia or other illnesses, or right after surgery. Even stress from daily living, caffeine and alcohol may also induce an occurrence of an AFib attack or heart rhythm disturbances.

Diagnosing Atrial Fibrillation

With atrial fibrillation care available at convenient locations across northeast Ohio, our board-certified physicians perform a thorough medical examination, along with the latest in diagnostic tests to record the heart’s rhythm or identify any irregularities. Tests for AFib include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): A noninvasive recording of the electrical activity of your heart.
  • Holter monitor: A portable device that records a continuous record of the electrical activity of your heart for 24-48 hours; this would record heart rhythm abnormalities that occur intermittently and may be undetected on the ECG.
  • Event monitor: A portable device usually issued for 12-30 days to record arrhythmias that occur infrequently.

Atrial Fibrillation Treatment Options

Beyond providing leading medical, ablative and surgical treatments, University Hospitals’ experts also participate in investigational clinical trials evaluating new strategies, medicines and technologies for treating AFib. Our team will work with you to create a specific treatment plan for your AFib targeting stroke prevention, heart rate control and ultimately means to restore normal sinus rhythm.

UH Treatment Options

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