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Non-surgical Procedures for Atrial Fibrillation

Physicians affiliated with Memorial Hermann perform two non-surgical heart rhythm treatments: heart ablation and cardioversion.

Heart Ablation

For arrhythmias caused by abnormal heart tissue, heart ablation, also known as catheter radiofrequency ablation, can be used to destroy the abnormal heart tissue. During the procedure, catheters (thin, flexible tubes) are threaded through the patient's blood vessels to reach the abnormal heart tissue. The cardiologist then uses a small cutter or radiofrequency energy to remove the abnormal tissue.

Cardioversion

To correct atrial fibrillation or reset the heart to its regular rhythm (sinus rhythm), physicians may perform a procedure called cardioversion using either medications or electricity.

Chemical Cardioversion

Medicines (anti-arrhythmics) are used to stop the heart's quivering and restore normal sinus rhythm. The medications help maintain sinus rhythm for at least one year in 50 percent to 65 percent of people. However, they can cause side effects such as nausea and fatigue, as well as some long-term risks. In rare cases, the medications may adversely affect heart rhythm.

Electrical Cardioversion

While under light anesthesia, a patient receives an electrical shock through paddles or patches on the chest. The shock stops the heart's electrical activity for a split second. When the heart's electrical activity resumes, the rhythm may be normal.

Cardioversion is not always effective. While it may successfully restore regular heart rhythm in more than 95 percent of patients, more than half of patients eventually go back into arrhythmia. In many instances, the patient must take anti-arrhythmic medications indefinitely.

Getting Started

To learn more about non-surgical procedures for AFib, electrophysiologists or treatment facilities, please use our contact form here. Schedule an appointment with an electrophysiologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann online or by calling (713) 222-2273.