Atrial Fibrillation Treatment (Afib)

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Does your heart feel "off" sometimes? Like it's fluttering or skipping beats? Maybe you're getting tired and out of breath when exercising, much quicker than before? You're probably wondering about your heart. These could be signs of atrial fibrillation (afib). It's the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) in the U.S.

Afib alone isn't life-threatening. But, it can be scary. And it can be dangerous. If you have it, you're more likely to have a stroke. If you're worried about your heart health, the atrial fibrillation experts at UVA Health can help.

We were the first in Virginia to offer care for arrhythmias like afib. And, we've been nationally recognized and received several awards for our heart care. Becker’s Hospital Review named UVA Health’s Heart & Vascular Center to its 2023 list of 100 hospitals and health systems with great heart programs.

See other awards and recognition for our heart care.

Afib Treatment at UVA Health

Afib treatment is complex. There is no one-size-fits-all.

At UVA Health, we've seen more than 3,000 patients since 2004. That deep experience means we know what to look for and how best to treat it. 

Atrial fibrillation treatment helps:

  • Lower your stroke risk
  • Control your heart rate 
  • Restore a normal heart rhythm

Treatment depends on your age, how bad it is, and what caused your afib. Your care team may ask you to take medication to prevent blood clots.

Ablation and Cardioversion

As you get treatment to prevent blood clots, our teams will come together on the best course of action. Treatment might involve:

Afib patients with a higher risk of stroke may want a heart device

Bob Wright with the Grand Canyon in the background. Bob got ablation surgery for his afib at UVA Health.

Trusting His Heart Again: Bob's Afib & Ablation

Bob Wright told his doctor his heart sometimes felt "wiggy." It caused issues with his bicycling. He was diagnosed with afib. After an ablation procedure at UVA Health, Bob was able to get back on his bike and live out his dream of riding across the country.

Read Bob's Story

What is Afib?

Atrial fibrillation is a kind of arrhythmia. These abnormal heartbeats happen when you too many electric pulses in the upper chambers of your heart. They compete and cause uneven beats.

An atrial flutter is like atrial fibrillation, but it's less severe.

Afib symptoms include:

  • Rapid and uneven heartbeat
  • Fluttering or pounding in the chest
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Dizziness, faintness or confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue when exercising

We can spot your atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter using:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This measures the eletric pulses in your heart. You might get an ECG if you’ve been having trouble breathing, dizzy, fainting, fatigued, or feeling palpitations. Your doctor finds an irregular heartbeat during an exam.

  • Holter monitor: Your doctor might ask you to wear a special monitor to catch short bouts of irregular heartbeats. That will help them see if it's afib. You might need to wear it for 24 hours (a Holter monitor) or for a month (an event monitor).