Receiving a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation is worrisome. And when it comes to matters of the heart, experience counts. Levinson Heart Institute, located within Chippenham Hospital, cares for more hearts, valves, veins, and arteries than any other health system in Central Virginia. Opened in 2003, Levinson was the first heart hospital in Virginia. For more than a decade, physicians and hospital teams have worked tirelessly to build the region’s premier cardiac care center, proving that experience matters when you’re dealing with the complex cardiovascular system.
Levinson Heart Institute is committed to the best care for the fastest recovery times so you can get back to doing the things you love. Our cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons are perennially voted the best in Richmond among their peers, and are devoted to advancing heart care in Central Virginia.
Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is the most common heart rhythm disorder, caused by rapid and disorganized electrical signals that disrupt blood flow in the upper chamber of the heart (the atria). Afib often results from an existing heart condition but sometimes occurs in people with no other heart problems.
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What is Afib?
Afib occurs when rapid, disorganized electrical signals cause the heart’s two upper chambers (the atria) to contract at a fast and irregular pace, or, fibrillate.
Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) is the incidence of the heart beating irregularly. This can lead to blood pooling in the atria and not passing smoothly to the heart’s two lower chambers (the ventricles), ultimately leading to a disruption in the heart’s normal electrical harmony. Afib is caused by a multitude of factors, some environmental, some behavioral, and some genetic. It is often found in those with atherosclerosis, angina, hypertension, and patients with lung problems. Afib is also commonly associated with diseases such as stroke and heart failure, and as Afib becomes permanent in a patient, mortality rates increase.
Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
Patients with Afib typically experience symptoms including:
- Irregular or rapid pulse or heart beat
- Racing feeling in the chest
- Palpitations, or a pounding feeling in the chest
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue or weakness
- Difficulty exercising
At Chippenham Hospital, we are able to provide innovative treatment solutions, such as the Convergent Maze procedure and WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant.
Convergent (or Hybrid) Maze is so named for the maze-like set of incisions made on the left and right atria. It is a multidisciplinary, closed chest, minimally-invasive endoscopic procedure that creates scar lines (lesions) on the epicardium (the outside of the heart) without compromising the pericardium (the membrane sac enclosing the heart and other major surrounding vessels). The lesions work to divert the abnormal electrical impulses in the heart which cause the arrhythmia, isolating them, and allowing the heart to return to its normal beating pattern.
WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant
The WATCHMAN can enable you to discontinue warfarin and reduce your Afib stroke risk comparably.
The WATCHMAN left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) implant is a non-valvular atrial fibrillation alternative to long-term Coumadin (warfarin) medication. If you have atrial fibrillation and are considered suitable for warfarin by your doctor but have reason to seek a non-drug alternative, the WATCHMAN implant may be able to reduce your risk of atrial fibrillation-related stroke.
People with atrial fibrillation have a five times greater risk of stroke because it can cause blood to pool and form clots in an area of the heart known as the left atrial appendage. This appendage is believed to be the primary source of stroke-causing blood clots for those with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.
The WATCHMAN implant closes off the left atrial appendage to keep harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream. This may reduce the risk of stroke and, over time, may allow you to stop taking warfarin. Implanting the WATCHMAN implant is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.