Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is the most common and one of the most under-treated, persistent heart rhythm disorders in America. The disease involves an irregular quivering or rapid heart rhythm in the upper chambers (atria) of the heart. A heart in Afib often beats significantly faster than a normal heartbeat. When the heart does not contract at a normal rhythm, blood is not pumped as efficiently out of the atria and may pool and clot.

Afib patients have a higher chance of stroke, heart failure and death. Furthermore, patients with Afib can suffer from bothersome symptoms including fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations (a sensation in the chest of rapid or irregular rhythms), chest pain, and lightheadedness.

While medication has been considered the first line of treatment for Afib, some patients may benefit from other options if medications fail to work for them. New medical technology has the potential to provide patients with better treatment options. Stereotaxis remote magnetic (robotic) navigation catheter ablations, and catheter cryoablations including balloon cryoablation for Afib are just a few of the innovative treatment options offered at Akron General for patients suffering from Afib. The Akron General Heart & Vascular Center offers patients various innovative treatment options for cardiac and vascular conditions.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic?

From evaluation to state-of-the-art treatment options and follow-up care, patients get quick, convenient access to a team of highly trained physicians and staff to guide them through the process.

In addition to Akron General's Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) Center, our Electrophysiology (EP) Services help patients manage and treat a full spectrum of heart rhythm disorders. Also called arrhythmias, heart rhythm disorders may be harmful and possibly life-threatening, if not treated.

Akron General has continued to maintain an outstanding reputation in treating heart rhythm disorders by combining cutting-edge technology and a team of specialists with advanced training.

Atrial Fibrillation Treatment Options

Balloon Cryoablation

The Akron General Health & Vascular Center is among the first in the state to use cardiac balloon catheter cryoablation, a minimally-invasive approach that freezes tissue in the heart's upper chambers (atria), efficiently blocking the troublesome electrical impulses around the pulmonary vein identified as the source of the erratic electrical signals that cause Afib. The goal is to return the patient's heart to a normal rhythm by preventing unwanted electrical currents from traveling from the pulmonary veins and spreading to the upper chambers of the heart. The pulmonary veins are large blood vessels that carry blood from the lungs to the left atrium (left upper chamber). Cardiac tissues are then ablated through freezing energy rather than heat, which is delivered through a catheter to a balloon.

For some patients with Afib, this more efficient approach to Afib ablation is a better option than the other ablation options. One of our Electrophysiologists (EP) specialists can help to determine which treatment option is best for you.

Balloon catheter cryoablation is one of a number of innovative treatment options offered at Akron General to help patients with Afib. The balloon catheter cryoablation system offered at Akron General, the Arctic Front Advanced Cardiac Ablation System, is manufactured by Medtronic and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for catheter ablation of symptomatic drug-refractory, paroxysmal (episodic) Afib.

Our heart rhythm (EP) specialists offer a broad range of treatment options for Afib, including control of the heart rate, stroke prevention, and, for appropriate patients, restoration of normal rhythm with medications or with catheter ablation.

Benefits can also include:

  • Less invasive treatment of complex arrhythmias that helps shorten:
    • Time under anesthesia
    • Surgery time
    • Hospital stay
  • Helps improve safety
  • Reduces radiation (x-ray) exposure to patients and staff.
  • Uses the advantage of balloon design to freeze left atrial tissue quickly and efficiently which helps increase safety.

Robotic (Stereotaxis Remote Magnetic) Catheter Ablation

Traditional catheter ablation techniques are challenging for physicians because they require precise manual orientation of a relatively stiff catheter within the potentially complex heart chamber anatomy. The goal of Stereotaxis technology is to contact the wall of the heart in an optimal way using a soft catheter that is guided with precision robotically within a magnetic field. Softer, more flexible catheters may reduce the chance of distorting or damaging the heart wall.

Benefits of robotic catheter ablation include:

  • Helps improve safety and outcomes for patients being treated for both common and complex arrhythmias.
  • Less invasive treatment of complex arrhythmias could shorten procedures and hospital stays.
  • Reduces radiation exposure to patients and staff.
  • Combining precise, computer-aided magnetic guidance and gentle catheter contact, we are able to perform softer, potentially safer interventional procedures.

Other options available include:

  • Cardioversion.
  • Radiofrequency catheter ablation.
  • Catheter Cryoablation.
  • Epicardial catheter ablation.
  • Loop recorder implantation.
  • Computerized 3-D mapping of arrhythmias.
  • Comprehensive electrical studies to evaluate and target a broad variety of arrhythmias Insertion of cardiac pacemakers.
  • Insertion of Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators (ICDs).
  • Bi-ventricular pacing therapy for heart failure, also known as cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) can be combined with a pacemaker or ICD Extractions (removal) of cardiac devices such as pacemakers and ICDs using various cutting-edge technologies including laser and mechanical tools.
  • Tilt table testing for patients with syncope (sudden loss of consciousness).


If you think you're experiencing heart-rhythm abnormalities, make an appointment with your doctor or call us at 330.344.2342 (AFIB). As always, if you are having severe symptoms, don't wait. Call 911.

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