About

Founded in 2006, the Cardiovascular Center's Atrial Fibrillation Program refines and defines management of this disease by using ablation to cure it. Averaging 15 patients a week, 60 percent of who come from out of the state, the success rate is more than 90 percent. That means within three months of ablation, patients are cured of the arrhythmia and off medication.

As a patient, you will receive care from some of the world's leading specialists as many of our physicians have participated in the research and development of the newest treatments, including the latest in cardiac ablation. We also offer access to the most advanced techniques and technology, giving patients a complete range of treatment and drug options for atrial fibrillation.

Treatments

Atrial Fibrillation

What is atrial fibrillation?

Normally, the heart pumps in a well-timed fashion. The two upper chambers (atria) contract first followed by the two lower chambers (ventricles). This coordinated pumping is powered by the heart's own electrical system and efficiently pumps blood out to the body and back. In atrial fibrillation (AF), a type of arrhythmia, the electrical signals fire rapidly and chaotically. This causes the atria to quiver instead of contracting normally. Many of the signals also reach the ventricles, causing them to contract irregularly too. This results in a fast and irregular heart rhythm. Over time, this can weaken the heart and lead to heart failure. Plus, when the atria do not contract effectively, the blood may pool in the heart. This increases the risk that a blood clot may form and travel to the brain causing a stroke. People with AF are 5 to 7 times more likely to have a stroke than people who do not have AF.

AF is more common in people who are over 65 and is seen more often in men than women.

What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation?

You may not have symptoms with AF. But, when ventricles are not able to pump enough blood out to the lungs and body, it can cause these symptoms:

  • Heart palpitations or fluttering in the chest

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue

  • Anxiety

  • Dizziness and faintness

Some people with AF have intermittent episodes (intermittent or paroxysmal AF). Others have chronic or persistent AF.

What causes atrial fibrillation?

AF can develop when someone who has underlying heart disease, such as heart valve disease, heart attack, or heart failure. High blood pressure, thyroid problems, excess alcohol use, sleep apnea, and certain lung diseases can also cause AF.

How is atrial fibrillation treated?

Some people with atrial fibrillation will return to normal rhythm without treatment. They will "convert" on their own back to normal rhythm. Treatment decisions depend in part on whether symptoms are bothersome and how long your heart has been in AF. For most people, treatment of AF involves attempts to restore (reset) the heart back to its normal rhythm (rhythm control) or to control the heart rate (rate control). Sometimes surgery or a procedure called catheter ablation is used. In addition, a person with AF is given medications to prevent blood clots to reduce the risk of stroke.  

Rhythm control. Rhythm control is an attempt to reset the heart back to its normal rhythm. It can be done with medications or electrical shock.

  • Anti-arrhythmic medications, such as sodium channel blockers or potassium channel blockers, slow the heart's ability to send electrical signals.

  • Electrical cardioversion involves sending an electrical shock through paddles placed on the chest. Usually doctors will want you to take blood thinners for a period of time before electrical cardioversion to reduce the risk of a stroke from a dislodged blood clot.

Rate control. Medications to help control the heart rate include

  • Beta blockers, such as atenolol or metoprolol. These drugs slow the heart rate.

  • Calcium channel blockers, such as diltiazem or verapamil. These drugs slow the heart rate.

  • Digoxin. This drug slows the electrical currents between the upper and lower chambers.

Catheter ablation. In this procedure, a catheter is guided through a blood vessel to the heart. Here energy is sent through the catheter to destroy small areas of heart tissue responsible for the arrhythmia. It may be an option when medications are not working.

Maze procedure. This is a surgical procedure in which areas of the heart are cut to create a "maze" of scar tissue that prevents the erratic electrical signals from passing through the heart.  

Treatment to prevent blood clots. People with AF will be prescribed blood thinners to reduce the risk for stroke. This may include aspirin, clopidogrel, warfarin, dabigatran, or rivaroxaban. Your doctor will have a detailed discussion with you about which blood-thinning medications are most appropriate for you.

Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosis, Management, and Follow-up

Patient information about atrial fibrillation, diagnosis, management, and follow upIf you you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, please feel free to download this informational brochure. It is produced by the Cardiovascular Center of University of Utah Health Care and is intended to help you better understand the diagnosis and treatment of atrial fibrillation. It is important to read through all of the information carefully and discuss any further questions you may have with a doctor.

Research

The Comprehensive Arrhythmia Reserach & Management Center works as a uniquely multifaceted and comprehensive program, collaborating with research partners to further develop the technology, research, and clinical management for the advancement of superior, world-class medical treatment of atrial arrhythmias.

Procedures

Cardiologists

Nazem Akoum, M.D., M.S., FHRS

Dr Akoum is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Utah. Dr Akoum studied Mathematics and graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the American University of Beirut in 1997. He subsequently obtained his medical degree in 2001. Dr Akoum completed an Internal Medicine Residency at Indiana Univers... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology

Locations:

Blanding Family Practice (435) 678-3601
Redwood Health Center (801) 213-9990
South Jordan Health Center (801) 213-4500
Stansbury Health Center (435) 843-3096
University Hospital (801) 585-7676

Roger A. Freedman, M.D.

Roger A. Freedman, M.D. has been a faculty member at the University of Utah for over 20 years. He specializes in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias, particularly in the implantation and management of implanted pacemakers and defibrillators. Pacemaker and defibrillator lead extraction is a highly specialized t... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology, Pacemaker and Defibrillator Implantation, Pacemaker and Defibrillator Lead Extraction

Locations:

Eastern Idaho Cardiology Associates (801) 585-1935
Idaho Heart Institute (801) 585-1935
Star Valley Medical Center (801) 585-7676
Faint & Fall Clinic (801) 213-2033
University Hospital (801) 585-7676
William B. Ririe Hospital & Rural Health Clinic (801) 585-7676

Frederick T. Han, FACC, M.D., FHRS

Dr. Frederick Han is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Han strives to give excellent care to his patients by providing open communication and individualized treatment. He makes every effort to provide evidenced-based care while also striving to ensure patient satisfaction.
... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology

Locations:

Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (801) 585-7676
Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital (801) 585-7676
University Hospital (801) 585-7676
William B. Ririe Hospital & Rural Health Clinic (801) 585-7676

Nassir F. Marrouche, M.D.

Dr. Marrouche has dedicated his career to developing innovative research and clinical practices to advance patient care, diagnosis and treatment of heart arrhythmias. In 2009, at the University of Utah, he created the Comprehensive Arrhythmia Research and Management Center (CARMA) bringing together a cross-depa... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Arrhythmia Management, Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 585-7676

Ravi Ranjan, M.D., Ph.D.

Ravi Ranjan, M.D., Ph.D., is a cardiologist specializing in cardiac electrophysiology. His clinical interests include ablation of complex cardiac arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardias and supra-ventricular tachycardias. He also has keen interest in cardiac device based therapy like cardi... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 585-7676

T. Scott Wall, M.D.

Dr. Wall is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Utah. He received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from University of Texas at Austin and received his medical degree from University of Texas Southwestern. Dr. Wall completed his Internal Medicine Residency at University of North Carolina Chape... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology, Faint and Fall

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Zara U. Amoros, APRN, ACNP

Zara has been practicing as an Cardiology Nurse Practitioner (NP) since 2011. She started with Electrophysiology specialty where she practiced for about 9 months caring for patients with heart rhythm abnormality and then transitioned to General Cardiology caring for patients with more broad spectrum cardiac prob... Read More

Specialties:

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology, General Cardiology

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-2121

Brenda I. Fish, APRN, CCDS, M.S.N.

Brenda Fish, APRN, is a nurse Practitioner in Cardiology, specializing in arrhythmias and devices such as pacemakers, implantable defibrillators. She is licensed to practice in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada and participated in our Outreach clinics in these states.
... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology, Nurse Practitioner

Locations:

East Falls Orthopaedics Clinic (801) 585-1935
Idaho Heart Institute (801) 585-1935
University Hospital (801) 585-7676

Paulina K. Gudgell, M.S.N., APRN, ACNP-BC

Paulina Gudgell, MSN, APRN, ACNP-BC has been practicing in the department of Cardiology as a Nurse Practitioner (NP) since 2010. She began practicing in the specialty of Cardiac Electrophysiology, where she practiced for 1.5 years treating patients with a variety of atrial and ventricular arrhythmias, with a spe... Read More

Specialties:

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology, General Cardiology, Preventive Cardiology

Locations:

Redwood Health Center
University Hospital (801) 587-5888

LeeAnn S. Kanamu, APRN

LeeAnn W. S. Kanamu, ACNP, APRN, is a Nurse Practitioner at the University of Utah, Division of Cardiology. As a Cardiac electrophysiology nurse practitioner, her academic interests include treatment modalities for cardiac arrhythmias; including Atrial fibrillation, other atrial arrhythmias, and ventricular arrh... Read More

Specialties:

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-2121

Charles S. King, PA-C, M.P.A.S.

Mr. King’s clinical interests are in the care of adults and children with cardiac congenital diseases and cardiac arrhythmias. He actively participates in research efforts in collaboration with the Department of Pediatric/Pediatric Cardiology, Division, Department of Internal Medicine/Division of Cardiology, Dep... Read More

Specialties:

Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Cardiac Electrophysiology, Pediatric Cardiology, Physician Assistant

Locations:

Pediatric Cardiology (801) 662-5400

Nancy M. Veit, APRN

Nancy M. Viet, APRN, M.S.N. is a nurse practitioner in the Interventional Cardiology Clinic at the University of Utah. As a cardiology nurse practitioner her clinical interests include interventional cardiology, electrophysiology and congenital cardiology. She is licensed to practice in Utah and Wyoming.
... Read More

Specialties:

Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology, Interventional Cardiology, Nurse Practitioner

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Jessiciah Windfelder, APRN

Jessiciah Windfelder, ACNP, APRN, is a Nurse Practitioner at the University of Utah, Division of Cardiology as the coordinator of the Atrial Fibrillation Program. As a Cardiac electrophysiology nurse practitioner, her clinical interests include the treatment and management of cardiac arrhythmia patients, includi... Read More

Specialties:

Adult Nurse Practitioner, Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiology

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-2121

Locations

University Campus
University Hospital
50 N Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84132
Map
(801) 581-2121
Primary Children's Hospital
100 N Mario Capecchi Dr
Salt Lake City, UT 84132
(801) 662-1000

Patient Experience

Doctor's Innovation Makes Life-Changing Surgery Available to Heart Patient

Doctor's Innovation Makes Life-Changing Surgery Available to Heart Patient

While hiking in Peru with her husband and children, Michele Straube stopped at every switchback, wheezing and feeling dizzy. Although she was trim and athletic, uphill climbs proved especially difficult for her, often leaving her lagging behind the group or requiring her to stop and catch her breath....

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Clinical Trials