Program for Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is a complex disease. Every patient presents a unique challenge, requiring an integrative treatment approach. Northwestern Memorial’s Program for Atrial Fibrillation offers a dedicated team of nationally recognized cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, nurses and other experts to treat the disease.
Treatments with catheter ablation or surgery can restore a regular rhythm and improve a patient’s quality of life. Once atrial fibrillation is identified, early treatment results in a greater chance of success.
What Is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation is a condition in which abnormal and chaotic electrical signals or pathways occur in the atria (the top part of the heart), causing an irregular heartbeat. The irregular heartbeat does not allow the atria to contract or squeeze normally. Instead, the atria quiver, decreasing the amount of blood ejected from the heart with each heartbeat. Read the Heart Rhythm Society’s comprehensive overview of atrial fibrillation for more information.
Atrial fibrillation affects about 5 million Americans, most of them over 60. The condition is responsible for 15 to 20 percent of all strokes.
During cardiac surgery, a blood clot is removed from the atria to reduce the risk of stroke. Please note: This video may be graphic in nature. There is no audio for this video.
Diagnosing Atrial Fibrillation
Rod S. Passman, MD, medical director for the Program for Atrial Fibrillation, offers a multidisciplinary approach with a team of specialists to diagnosis and treat atrial fibrillation. After reviewing your medical history and cardiac evaluation, our physicians will discuss their recommendations for medical and/or surgical treatment with you and your referring physician and/or cardiologist. Dedicated nurse coordinators will follow your case, answering questions and managing the team.
Treatments for Atrial Fibrillation
We treat patients with atrial fibrillation using the most advanced medical and surgical techniques available, based on the latest evidence-based medicine:
- Medical treatment for atrial fibrillation includes medications that control heart rate and prevent episodes of atrial fibrillation and stroke; medical management is often the first line of treatment
- Catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation is a non-surgical procedure performed in the electrophysiology laboratory by specially trained cardiologists who focus on heart rhythm disorders, called electrophysiologists. Bradley P. Knight, MD, director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at Northwestern Memorial, and Dr. Passman lead a team of experts in treating atrial fibrillation
- Surgical treatments for atrial fibrillation include a minimally invasive maze procedure and the classic, open maze procedure. Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, is a nationally recognized experts in the surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation
Atrial Fibrillation Clinical Trials
Clinical trials conducted by the Program for Atrial Fibrillation focus on understanding factors that predispose patients to atrial fibrillation. Our goal is to develop new, less-invasive treatments for atrial fibrillation.
Atrial Fibrillation Ablation Registry
Northwestern Memorial catalogues data from every one of our patients who receives catheter ablation, creating a registry similar to those compiled on surgeries. By monitoring issues and outcomes over a wide range of atrial fibrillation patients, we are learning how to better care for our patients today—and how to improve therapies for the future.
Contact Us Today
For more information regarding atrial fibrillation, please call the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312-694-AFIB (2342) and ask to speak with one of our dedicated atrial fibrillation nurses. Jane Kruse and Mary Navarrete can provide information, answer questions and assist you with treatment options that best fit your needs. You can also request a first-time appointment online.
Clinical Trials and Quality Ratings
Our quality ratings provide detailed information about data we have collected about our healthcare performance. View our quality ratings related to atrial fibrillation.
A Second Chance to Listen & Learn
Did you miss our atrial fibrillation seminar? It is now available to view via video!
The Beat on Atrial Fibrillation Seminar
Among the Nation's Best
In 2012 U.S. News & World Report ranked our Cardiology and Heart Surgery program 17th in the nation and the highest ranked program in the state of Illinois.