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Restore Life's Rhythm with AFib Treatment Options

Understanding atrial fibrillation

The electrical system of the heart keeps it beating efficiently and pumping properly. An arrhythmia is a disruption of this normal electrical activity. Atrial fibrillation is the most common disruptive arrhythmia in adults, and it makes the heart beat irregularly—and often too fast. The risk of stroke for AFib patients is as much as five times greater than that of a person without heart disease, AFib can reduce a person's quality of life. If not controlled, it can weaken the heart and lead to heart failure as the heart is unable to circulate enough blood to meet the body's needs.

New treatment for long standing, persistent atrial fibrillation patients

MedStar Health was the first and most experienced healthcare system in the region to offer Hybrid AF™ Therapy, the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatment for people who are coping with atrial fibrillation or AFib beyond 12 months. It is now become a first-line therapy for patients who have longstanding, persistent atrial fibrillation.

Hybrid AF™ Therapy is truly a breakthrough treatment option as this category of AFib patients has historically been challenging to treat. This is a minimally-invasive, two-step ablation procedure that uses heat to stop the erratic electrical signals that cause AFib and restore normal heart rhythm. A cardiac surgeon performs the first procedure by making a small incision under the breastbone, to create access to the outside of the heart and then creates lesions (scarring) on the back walls of the heart. An electrophysiologist then gains access to the inside of the heart and blood vessels via a catheter inserted through an incision in groin, to deliver therapeutic energy to the areas of the heart to destroy abnormal electrical activity.

Some 71 convergent ablation procedures were performed at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital and MedStar Washington Hospital during the most recent fiscal year. We are seeing excellent outcomes at this point-more than 70 percent of patients remain free of AFib and related symptoms a year after their procedure.

Approximately 45% of AFib patients have long standing, persistent AFib, affecting more than 3.5 million people in the United States.

  • About Atrial Fibrillation

    The heart’s complex electrical system controls its contractions, the source of its pumping function. The heart pumps most efficiently when it maintains a steady rhythm. Arrhythmia means abnormal heart rhythm, and atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia in adults, affecting over five million in the U.S.

    Some people may not be aware of their AFib while others may experience significant symptoms. Whether one has symptoms or not, AFib can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure, or other serious problems.
  • Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

    Our patients describe the arrhythmias associated with AFib as follows:

    “… like a big trout flopping around in my chest.”

    “… my whole world was contracting.”

    “… a volcano erupting in my chest.”

    You may have numerous symptoms of AFib, or you may have none at all. The most common symptom is a quivering or fluttering heartbeat. Patients may experience any or all of the symptoms below.

    • Changes in the rate, rhythm, or pattern of the pulse
    • Chest pain
    • Fainting
    • Fast or slow heartbeat (heart palpitations)
    • Light-headedness or dizziness
    • Paleness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Skipping heartbeats
    • Sweating
  • Treatment Options

    Our AFib treatment goal is to get you back to living your normal, active life. Our cardiac specialists provide a comprehensive range of treatments, from medication through the most state-of-the-art, minimally invasive surgeries. We will work with you to develop a custom treatment plan that may include the following:

    • Medication: Drugs are often prescribed to manage your risk of blood clots and control your heart rate. Medications such as beta blockers, anti-arrhythmic medicines, and calcium channel blockers are used to manage an irregular heartbeat.
    • Cardioversion: This non-surgical, temporary procedure converts your rapid heartbeat to a normal rhythm using electrical current or medication
    • Ablation: Typically recommended when medication and cardioversion aren’t effective, ablation is a minimally invasive procedure. Your physician uses a catheter, video camera, or tiny robot to create scar tissue inside your heart, stopping your irregular heartbeat. This procedure requires only a small bandage at the entry site to heal.
    • Convergent Hybrid AF™ Therapy: A minimally-invasive, two-step ablation procedure that uses heat to stop the erratic electrical signals that cause AFib and restore normal heart rhythm (See above - New treatment for long standing, persistent atrial fibrillation patients)
    • Left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAO) systems: MedStar Health physicians offer both the WATCHMAN™ and the Amulet™ devices designed to permanently reduce the risk of stroke, by closing off the left atrial appendage (LAA) during a minimally-invasive procedure. The LAA is the most common site where harmful blood clots form in patients with AFib.
    • Surgery: You may be a candidate for surgery if you do not respond to medical therapy or ablation. Surgery for atrial fibrillation is often performed with other heart surgery.

Why patients choose us

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute offers one of the highest volume heart rhythm programs in the country. Our experts include board-certified, nationally recognized arrhythmia specialists who work as a team that is driven by one goal: taking the best care of our patients.

Collaborating with hundreds of cardiac specialists throughout Maryland, DC, and Virginia, we are committed to creating a comprehensive, compassionate, and individualized treatment plan that is right for you.

Our 23 regional clinic sites located in the District of Columbia, Maryland and northern Virginia enable us to deliver world-class care, close to home.

MedStar Health is a nationally recognized leader in heart rhythm treatment innovation. In addition to Hybrid AF™ Convergent Therapy, our electrophysiologists are some of the first in the country to offer breakthrough therapies. They also participate in clinical trials which offer promise for new treatments in the future. To learn more, scroll down to the “Want to Know More?” section on this page and download the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute Capabilities, Performance and Outcomes report.

We welcome new patients and accept most health insurance.

To request an appointment, call



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Learn more about treatment options

Podcast: Let’s Talk AFib

S4:E3: : Let’s Talk AFib

Learn more about Dr. Jones here.

Podcast: Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) - from prevention to treatment

S2:E16: Atrial Fibrillation – from prevention to treatment

Learn more about Dr. Sidhu here.

" I don't know what we would have done if we hadn't discovered these doctors."
- Bernita and Natalie Faulkner, Waldorf and Oxon Hill, MD

Left Atrial Appendage Occluders (LAAOs) Reduce the Risk of Stroke in AFib Patients

Are you a good candidate for a left atrial appendage occluder (LAAO)?

  1. Do you have AFib?
  2. Are you at an increased risk for stroke?
  3. Are you able to take warfarin (anticoagulants or blood thinners)?
  4. Do you have reason to seek a non-pharmacologic alternative?

If you answered “yes” to each of these questions, then a left atrial appendage occluder may be an effective treatment for you.

The region’s most advanced heart rhythm program

We are proud to offer comprehensive, personalized heart rhythm care for every single one of our patients, close to home and work. We have 23 convenient locations in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia. High-volume experience and concentrated expertise, coupled with state-of-the art technology, are the hallmarks of this program.

To request an appointment, call



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Want to know more?

Get an in-depth look at our advanced treatments, cutting-edge research, and positive patient outcomes.

2023-24 MWHC - Best Hospitals - US News and World Report - Heart & Vascular

MedStar Washington Hospital Center Awarded