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Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is one of the most common heart rhythm disorders. If you’ve been diagnosed with AFib, it means that the top two chambers of your heart - the atria - are beating rapidly and irregularly because of an electrical conduction problem. This rapid beating of the heart can lead to blood pooling and clotting in the heart, increasing your risk of a stroke. When your heart performs at a rapid pace for prolonged periods of time it can weaken and lead to congestive heart failure.

The heart and vascular team at SSM Health is well-equipped to care for your AFib and bring you back to health. Our experienced team offers a full range of treatment options, including the most advanced technology available to treat AFib. Schedule an appointment today to learn how our expert team would approach your care.

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Many people with AFib have no symptoms at all, but others may experience palpitations and a fast heart rate. Other symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue and weakness

In some cases, the symptoms of AFib may mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. Always seek emergency medical care if you’re unsure of the cause of your symptoms.

Atrial Fibrillation Treatments

SSM Health offers a broad range of treatments to minimize your symptoms and reduce your risk of serious complications. After a thorough evaluation, which typically includes a physical exam and an electrocardiogram (EKG), our team will create a treatment plan specifically for you. The goals of your treatment will likely include restoring a normal heart rhythm, managing your risk of stroke, and preventing heart failure. Treatment options may include:


Your doctor may prescribe medications that help control your heart rate, as well as blood thinners to help reduce the risk of stroke.


When atrial fibrillation does not respond well to prescribed medications, minimally invasive AFib ablation can help restore a normal heart rhythm. During this procedure, you doctor uses energy to destroy the heart tissue that is causing the abnormality and to redirect the electrical impulses that control your heartbeat.

Surgical Procedures

The primary surgical procedure to treat AFib is called Maze. During the procedure, a surgeon creates scars in the heart tissue to redirect the electrical signals and bring your heart back into rhythm. Traditionally an open heart procedure, our surgeons also offer the less invasive hybrid maze procedure that offers a faster recovery time.

Stroke Preventing Procedures

Because AFib significantly increases the risk of stroke, a key goal of your treatment is taking steps to reduce this risk. If you cannot take long-term blood thinners, your physician may recommend a stroke preventing procedure designed to prevent the blood clots that cause strokes.

Whether you’re already being treated for AFib, newly diagnosed or looking for other options, make an appointment with an SSM Health heart and vascular specialist today. Our team is committed to helping you feel better and reduce your risk of complications. We’ll take the time to explain your options to you, so you can be comfortable you’re getting the care you need.

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