Atrial Fibrillation

When you have atrial fibrillation, or AFib, the upper chambers of your heart are out of sync with the lower chambers. Blood doesn’t flow like it should and you’re at risk for stroke and other complications.

The electrophysiologists at the Henry Ford Heart & Vascular Institute treat all forms of AFib. We can help you enjoy your healthiest life and reduce your risk of AFib-related trouble.

What You Need to Know About Atrial Fibrillation

Whether you’re newly diagnosed with AFib or have been living with the condition for years, we have five facts that may surprise you.

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Henry Ford Health System for AFib care: Why choose us?

Our heart rhythm experts have delivered top care to Michiganders for more than 20 years. Our AFib care includes:

  • Convenience: We make it easy to reach our clinics, with locations throughout southeast and south central Michigan. If you experience more severe AFib, you can get care at the Henry Ford Atrial Fibrillation Center at our main campus, Henry Ford Hospital.
  • Fast diagnosis and treatment: We can see new patients in several days. Our clinics have electrophysiologists — doctors who treat arrhythmia — as well as specialized nurses who only handle AFib.
  • Medical partnerships: Our team works closely with your primary care doctor. You can relax knowing you can return to your doctor back home after you start feeling better.
  • Comprehensive follow-up care: If you need a pacemaker or other device, our Device Clinic provides ongoing care and monitoring to keep you healthy.

Who is at risk for AFib?

Atrial fibrillation can occur at any age, but your chance of developing it increases as you grow older. AFib is most common in people over 60.

Other risk factors include:

Types of AFib

There are several types of atrial fibrillation:

  • Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: This type of AFib usually lasts more than a day but less than a week. Symptoms can feel mild or severe and suddenly start and then stop.
  • Persistent atrial fibrillation: Symptoms last more than a week at a time and usually need treatment.
  • Permanent atrial fibrillation: Symptoms occur all the time and do not completely go away, even with treatment. We work with you to find therapies that control symptoms as much as possible and reduce your risk of complications.

Symptoms AFib

Some people with AFib may not have any symptoms. Others may experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart failure
  • Heart palpitations or fluttering in the chest
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath

Connection between AFib and stroke

Because AFib affects the blood flow in the heart, it can cause blood clots. These clots can lead to a stroke.

We can lower your stroke risk with treatments such as left atrial appendage (LAA) closure. We use small devices or surgery to close off a small pouch and stop clots from leaving your heart. Even with these procedures, you may need additional AFib treatment to relieve symptoms.

AFib diagnosis

Our AFib clinics offer fast appointments, usually within a few days of reaching out. We take the time to listen to you so we can understand as much as possible about what you’re experiencing.

First, we do a complete physical exam and talk to you about your symptoms and overall health. We also look at lifestyle factors that may affect AFib.

We test the electrical activity of your heart in our dedicated electrophysiology (EP) labs. Using specialized equipment, our expert team pinpoints the source of the AFib. Learn more about what happens during an EP study.

Other common tests we use to diagnose AFib include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): An in-office electrocardiogram gives us a quick snapshot of your heart’s electrical activity.
  • Heart rhythm monitoring: We may observe your heart for a longer period of time using heart rhythm monitoring.

AFib Treatment

We can get you in for prompt and comprehensive treatment, thanks to our AFib clinics.

It’s important to us that you understand AFib and the available treatment options. Often, several different AFib therapies may work equally well.

Treatment options depend on symptoms and may include:

  • Medications: Drugs that control the heart rhythm or heart rate are often the first treatment option for AFib. Learn more about arrhythmia medications for AFib.
  • Cardioversion: This treatment delivers an electrical shock that resets your heart’s rhythm. Learn more about cardioversion.
  • Ablation: During this minimally invasive procedure, we use 3D pictures of your heart to find and treat problematic tissue causing AFib. Find out more about ablation.
  • Pacemaker: We implant a tiny permanent pacemaker under the collarbone to control your heart’s rhythm. Find out more about pacemakers.
Take the next step.

Request an appointment with an electrophysiologist.

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If this is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department.

For your safety, please select a MyChart video visit on demand or call our MyCare Advice Line at 844-262-1949 before scheduling if:

  • You currently have a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
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Henry Ford Health System is committed to ensuring our Deaf or hard-of-hearing patients and visitors have equal access to all services. We provide the appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, TTYs and other assistive listening devices, at no cost. To request assistance, call 313-916-1896 or email CommunicationAccess@hfhs.org.

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