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AFib (Atrial Fibrillation) Procedures Explained

AFib, or atrial fibrillation, is the most common type of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). At FMC Cardiology — Electrophysiology, Paul Z. Gerczuk, M.D. specializes in monitoring and treating conditions that affect the electrical system of the heart.

Specifically, Dr. Gerczuk has extensive experience in treating both fast and slow heart rhythm issues, including AFib. In addition to his outstanding medical credentials, Dr. Gerczuk is known for connecting with his patients on a personal level, which enhances the treatment process.

While AFib does not always produce noticeable symptoms, some patients experience what they describe as a “quivering or fluttering heartbeat.” Sometimes, the condition is discovered during a physical examination or electrocardiogram performed for an unrelated reason.

If AFib is suspected, a prompt diagnosis followed by appropriate monitoring and treatment are essential. When left untreated, AFib can lead to a number of serious cardiovascular complications, including blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.

In general, the goals of AFib treatment are to reset the heart’s rhythm and prevent blood clots. Dr. Gerczuk works closely with each patient to develop an optimal AFib treatment strategy. In some cases, clinical procedures such as electrical cardioversion can be used in addition to lifestyle changes and medications. In other situations, Dr. Gerczuk may recommend an ablation procedure to achieve a more lasting result.

The field of AFib treatment continues to advance very rapidly, and Dr. Gerczuk is firmly positioned at the forefront. Some of the procedures that he may recommend to treat AFib include: 

  • Catheter ablation — An electrophysiologist inserts a long, thin tube (catheter) into the groin area and then guides the tube through blood vessels to reach the heart. By controlling electrodes attached to the catheter tip, the physician can apply radiofrequency energy, extreme cold (cryotherapy), or heat to destroy problematic hot spots.
  • Atrioventricular (AV) node ablation — Using a catheter, a physician applies radiofrequency energy to the pathway that connects the upper chambers (atria) and lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart (the AV node) to destroy this small area of tissue and prevent the transmission of electrical impulses to the ventricles. The physician then implants a pacemaker to keep the ventricles beating properly.
  • Surgical maze procedure — During open heart surgery, a surgeon creates several precise incisions in the upper chambers of the heart to create a pattern of scar tissue. Because scar tissue does not carry electricity, it can intentionally interfere with the transmission of stray electrical impulses that cause AFib.

Cardiology is an area of medicine in which patients have a variety of options to significantly enhance their quality of life. For instance, new technologies and implants that are being used for AFib treatment have significantly improved patient outcomes. While Dr. Gerczuk find all aspects of his practice to be rewarding, it is the impact that he can make on his patients’ lives that he finds to be most gratifying.

To learn more, contact Dr. Gerczuk at FMC Cardiology — Electrophysiology.

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