Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) is the most common heart rhythm abnormality that starts in the atria. Approximately 2.2 million people in America and 4.5 million in the European Union have paroxysmal or persistent AF. Atrial fibrillation increases with age and is a major cause of stroke.
When someone has AF, the sinus node (SA node) doesn’t properly direct the heart’s electrical rhythm. Many different impulses rapidly fire at the same time, causing a very fast and chaotic rhythm in the atria (upper chambers of the heart). Because the electrical impulses are so fast and chaotic, the atria cannot contract and/or squeeze blood effectively into the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart). This decreases the heart’s pumping ability and increases the risk for blood clots.
Cleveland Clinic's Center for Atrial Fibrillation is a multidisciplinary specialty treatment group dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of AF– whether it is chronic (persistent) or paroxysmal (comes and goes). Since 2004, we have seen thousands of patients in the center. This experience and knowledge, combined with a caring staff, provides you with quality patient care.
What We Treat
The Center for Atrial Fibrillation brings together specialists from cardiology, electrophysiology, cardiac surgery, cardiac imaging and arrhythmia research with expertise in diagnostic testing, medical management, and interventional and surgical procedures for patients with:
- Chronic atrial fibrillation
- Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation
- Atrial Flutter
- Supraventricular tachycardias
Our team of health care professionals specializes in the care of patients with atrial fibrillation and provides patients with a full range of treatments aimed at rhythm control, rate control and stroke prevention strategies such as:
- A full range of imaging techniques and diagnostic studies designed to diagnose atrial arrhythmias, including electrocardiogram (ECG), ambulatory monitoring, echocardiogram and transesophageal echocardiogram
- Medical management, including the most current medication regimens to control rate, rhythm and prevent blood clots from forming
- Pulmonary vein isolation ablation, an interventional, catheter-based procedure to treat AF, as well as a full range of ablation techniques to treat other types of supraventricular arrhythmias
- Traditional and minimally invasive surgical procedures for atrial fibrillation (Maze procedure) that can be combined with other heart surgeries to fully treat the patient’s heart condition
- Device therapies, when needed, to control the heart rate
- Left atrial appendage closure.
Why choose Cleveland Clinic for your care?
Our outcomes speak for themselves. Please review our facts and figures and if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.
The Center for Atrial Fibrillation staff includes a multi-disciplinary group of health care professionals from various Sections and Departments within the Heart and Vascular Institute – designed to provide you with the best expertise to treat your atrial fibrillation.
- Walid Saliba, MD - Co-Medical Director, Center for Atrial Fibrillation; Director, Electrophysiology Lab; Staff Cardiologist, Section of Cardiac Electrophysiology and Pacing
- Oussama Wazni, MD - Co-Medical Director, Center for Atrial Fibrillation; Director, Outpatient Electrophysiology Department; Staff Cardiologist, Section of Cardiac Electrophysiology and Pacing
- A. Marc Gillinov, MD - Surgical Director, Center for Atrial Fibrillation; Staff Cardiac Surgeon, Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular, Institute Experience Officer, Heart & Vascular Institute
Our Medical Team
Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute: Cardiovascular Medicine, Section of Electrophysiology and Pacing
- Bruce Lindsay, MD, Section Head
- Bryan Baranowski, MD
- Mandeep Bhargava, MD
- Thomas Callahan, IV, MD
- Daniel Cantillon, MD
- Mina Chung, MD
- Thomas Dresing, MD
- Mohamed Kanj, MD
- Khaldoun Tarakji, MD, MPH
- David Martin, MD, MPH *
- Mark Niebauer, MD
- Walid Saliba, MD
- Patrick Tchou, MD
- Niraj Varma, MD, PhD
- Oussama Wazni, MD
- Bruce Wilkoff, MD *
- Christine Tanaka-Esposito, MD (Avon Location)
* Diagnoses and treats patients with atrial fibrillation, but does not perform ablations
The Center for Atrial Fibrillation support nurses are available to answer your questions throughout your care at Cleveland Clinic. These include:
- Megan Aurin, BSN, RN
- Charlotte Bacho, MSN, A-GNP-C
- Polina Engelhardt, MSN, NP-C
- Megan Eppich, RN
- Shannon Heidrick, BSN, RN
- Lauren Jamieson, BSN, RN
- Any Knesebeck, BSN, RN
- Christina Magnelli-Reyes, BSN, RN
- Jennifer Mallow, BSN, RN
- Maria Matteo, BSN, RN
- Tracy Mauric, BSN, RN
- Stacy Poe, MSN, NP-C
- Val Proa, BSN, RN
- Sue Sima, BSN, RN
- Eva Snyder, MSN, CNP
- Darlene Youngblood, MSN, RN
Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute: Cardiovascular Medicine, Section of Imaging
The Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute’s team of imaging specialists are experts in diagnosing underlying heart conditions that can lead to AF.
Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute: Cardiothoracic Surgery
Surgical procedures for AF include the Maze procedure (traditional, minimally invasive or robotically assisted) and the modified Maze procedure combined with other cardiac surgical procedures, such as mitral valve surgery:
- Lars Svensson, MD, PhD, Interim Chairman
- Gosta Pettersson, MD, PhD, Vice-Chairman
- A. Marc Gillinov, MD*
- Douglas Johnston, MD
- Stephanie Mick, MD
- Tomislav Mihaljevic, MD
- José Navia, MD
- Eric Roselli, MD
- Nicholas Smedira, MD
- Edward Soltesz, MD*
* Special interest in surgical treatments for atrial fibrillation
Other members of your healthcare team may include dietitians, exercise specialists and psychological support staff. Your care will be based on your individual needs and coordinated by the Center for Atrial Fibrillation.
What to Expect
Whether you are coming from around the corner or around the world, you want to know what to expect before, during and after your visit with us. If you have any questions while reviewing this information, please contact us. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Before your appointment
If your appointment is at least one week away, you will be asked to send in the following:
- Name, address and contact phone number(s)
- Insurance information
- Rhythm strip or EKG documenting your arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation)
- Echocardiogram report (CD is not necessary)
- Other cardiac test results, such as stress test or cardiac catheterization reports
- Medical records pertinent to your cardiac condition
- Recent history and physical exam report
- If you have had an ablation, you will be asked to send an electrophysiologist report from the procedure
All information should be sent in the same package (clearly marked with your name and address) via DHL, Federal Express or certified US mail. Make sure you get a tracking number for your package.
Information should be sent to:
Center for Atrial Fibrillation
Electrophysiology and Pacing - Desk J2 - 2
Attn: Stacy Poe, RN
9500 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44195
If your appointment is less than a week away, please bring your records to your appointment.
Traveling to Cleveland Clinic
When you make your appointment, we would like to make traveling to Cleveland Clinic as easy as possible. Information on travel to the Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute.
During your appointment
When you arrive at Cleveland Clinic for your initial appointment, you will first meet with a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant who will begin the interview process and ask you about your medical history and your atrial fibrillation. You might be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your atrial fibrillation.
Then, you will meet with a physician from the Center for Atrial Fibrillation. The physician will explain your treatment options for atrial fibrillation. Once you have agreed upon a treatment option, you may need additional tests to provide more information about your condition.
One treatment option is the use of anti-arrhythmic medication. Some medications require you to stay in the hospital when the medication is started. If your plan involves one of these medications, your doctor will give you more information.
Some patients with atrial fibrillation may benefit from the catheter based Pulmonary Vein Isolation (PVI) procedure. Your physician will decide if you are a candidate for this procedure based on your medical history and test results. If you are a candidate, a procedure date will be scheduled for you.
How long will you need to stay at Cleveland Clinic?
You should plan on staying one day for your initial consultation. If you need to have additional tests, you may need to return the next day, depending on the test schedule.
Certain anti-arrhythmic medications require telemetry monitoring when the medication is started. If your treatment plan includes one of these medications, you will need to stay in the hospital three nights.
If you are scheduled for PVI, you will stay in the hospital the evening of the procedure, and you will likely go home the next day. If you live more than two hours from Cleveland Clinic, we ask that you stay an additional night in the area at either a hotel or a local family member’s home.
After your visit
Your doctor will tell you when you need to be seen again.
If you have PVI, you will be seen 3 to 4 months after the procedure. At your follow-up visit, you will have testing that may include a cardiac CT scan, EKG, echocardiogram and/or blood work. You will meet with a member of the Center for Atrial Fibrillation nursing staff and with your physician.
Toll-free 800.223.2273, ext. 49162 for evaluations for medical management or pulmonary vein isolation procedures
Toll-free 877.843.2781 (877.8Heart1) for evaluations for surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation, including minimally invasive techniques combined with other heart surgery procedures
Go to Desk J1 - 5, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio.
Use our secure online form to submit an appointment request 24/7. We will receive it and follow-up with you as soon as possible.
Mon. - Fri., 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (ET):
toll-free 800.223.2273, ext. 49162
Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute physicians, surgeons, and researchers continue to research into new treatments and therapies with the goal of improving patient care and outcomes into the future.
Basic Research Efforts
The Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute is well equipped for state-of-the-art clinical, basic, and translational research efforts. Research into the mechanisms underlying atrial fibrillation (AF) and new treatments for AF is being conducted at each of these levels. One of the fundamental characteristics of this effort is its collaborative nature. Studies typically involve clinicians, surgeons, and scientists, interacting on a frequent basis. This integration and coordination gives us the ability to overcome the traditional boundaries to translational research efforts.
Cleveland Clinic has modern and well equipped laboratory facilities for basic cardiac electrophysiology research. Research facilities include approximately 2000 square feet of laboratory space, immediately adjacent to the hospital, with state of the art equipment for doing a broad spectrum of electrophysiology research at multiple levels - from the isolated cardiac myocyte (heart muscle cell), to the isolated heart or cardiac tissue, to whole animal studies, and finally to collaborative clinical studies.
For more information about the Center for Atrial Fibrillation basic research efforts contact David Van Wagoner, PhD.