Afib Rate Control: Ablation & Pacemaker

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If you're having heart rate issues (arrhythmia), we can help control it. We can stop a dangerous arrhythmia, like atrial fibrillation (afib). Once we've got your heart rate under control, we can treat the cause of the arrhythmia.

Your doctor may try to control your heart rate with medicine alone or with a combination of two procedures: an atrioventricular junction ablation (AVJ) and a pacemaker.

Afib Rate Control at UVA Health

At UVA Health, we're always exploring new ways to treat and manage heart rhythm disorders. Our arrhythmia care was the first of its kind in Virginia. Here, you'll range of advanced treatment options you can't always find nearby. And you'll have access to clinical trials through our research center.

See the awards and recognition we've received for our heart care.

Medicine for Rate Control

Medicines like beta blockers or calcium-channel blockers slow down the electric pulses as they travel through your heart. This forces the heart to stay at a slower rate.

The choice of medicine we use depends on other medical conditions you may have.

AVJ Ablation & Pacemaker

AVJ ablation directs energy at a part of your heart. It creates a break in the heart’s electric circuit. This prevents uneven electric pulses from reaching the lower chambers of your heart.

AVJ ablation alone makes your heart rate too slow. We combine that with a pacemaker to make your heart rate faster and more regular.

What to Expect

During an AVJ ablation, your doctor puts a small tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in your groin. We use a type of X-ray machine to watch the catheter. Once the catheter reaches your heart, sensors at its tip gather data to help pinpoint the site of the “short circuit.”

An electrical current is then passed through the catheter to heat the heart muscle at the tip of the catheter. A small amount of muscle is destroyed. This prevents electric pulses from the upper part of your heart (atria) from reaching the lower part (ventricles).

After an AVJ ablation, the upper and lower chambers of the heart can't communicate. The pacemaker helps the bottom chamber beat at a regular heart rate.