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Atrial Fibrillation Center

Call toll-free 1-844-SOS-AFIB

North Mississippi Medical Center's Atrial Fibrillation Center provides state-of-the-art treatment options for patients with atrial fibrillation. This program is a unique collaboration between electrophysiologists (cardiologists who specialize in heart rhythm conditions) and cardiothoracic surgeons to evaluate patients for the most appropriate treatment. Then, working with the patient's primary care physician, a treatment plan is developed. Once treated, the patient will return to the primary care physician for follow-up care that can be coordinated, if necessary, with the physician who performed the procedure.

What is atrial fibrillation?

Symptoms

Causes

Consequences

Treatment

Medications

Lifestyle changes

Diagnostic Studies & Surgical Services

Make an Appointment

Medical Team

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm that affects more than 2 million people in the United States. This condition originates in the atria (top chambers of the heart). Instead of the electrical impulse traveling in an orderly fashion through the heart, many impulses begin and spread through the atria causing the atria to quiver or fibrillate. Some of the electrical impulses travel through the heart and make the ventricles (bottom chambers of the heart) squeeze or contract.

Symptoms

Atrial fibrillation episodes may last minutes, hours or days. You may have atrial fibrillation without having any symptoms. However, if symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Heart palpitations (skipping or racing sensation in your chest)
  • Shortness of breath (difficulty breathing during normal activities, climbing stairs or walking long distances)
  • Dizziness (lightheadedness or feeling faint)
  • Weakness (lack of energy)
  • Discomfort, pain or pressure in chest

Causes

The most common causes of atrial fibrillation include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Heart failure
  • Cardiomyopathy (heart enlargement)
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart valve disease
  • Previous heart surgery
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Thyroid problems

In approximately 10 percent of cases, no underlying heart disease is found. In these cases, atrial fibrillation may be related to use of excessive caffeine or alcohol, stress, certain medications, or electrolyte or metabolic imbalances. In some cases, no cause can be found. The risk of atrial fibrillation increases with age, especially after age 60.

Consequences

Atrial fibrillation is not a life-threatening arrhythmia, but it can be extremely bothersome and sometime dangerous. People with atrial fibrillation are seven times more likely to have a stroke. Blood clots can travel to other parts of the body (heart, lungs, kidneys, intestines), causing damage. If your heart rate is fast over a long period of time, it can cause heart failure. Chronic atrial fibrillation can cause an increased risk of death.

Treatment

Treatment for atrial fibrillation includes restoring and maintaining a normal heart rhythm, controlling the heart rate and preventing blood clots, thereby reducing the risk of a stroke. Medications, lifestyle changes, procedures and surgery are used to treat atrial fibrillation.

Medications

  • Rhythm control medications help restore or maintain a normal heart rhythm (sinus rhythm). Commonly used medications include amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone); propafenone (Rhythmol); procainamide (Pronestyl); quinidine (Quinidex); metoprolol (Toprol, Lopressor); sotalol (Betapace); dofetilide (Tikosyn); and flecainide acetate (Tambocor). You may need to stay in the hospital when you first start taking these medications so that your heart rhythm and response to the medication can be monitored carefully. These medications may be needed indefinitely. Unfortunately, they may lose their effectiveness over time.
  • Rate control medications slow the heart rate and do not control the heart rhythm. Types of rate control medications include digoxin (Lanoxin); beta-blockers (such as metoprolol or sotalol); and calcium channel blockers (such as diltiazem or verapamil).
  • Medications to prevent blood clots reduce the risk of stroke. However, these medications do not eliminate the risk of stroke. Anticoagulant or antiplatelet therapy medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin) are commonly used. Depending on your medical history, aspirin may be used instead of warfarin.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Limit or avoid caffeine and other stimulants (such as coffee, tea, and some over-the-counter medications).
  • Limit your intake of alcohol.
  • Stop smoking.

Diagnostic Studies & Surgical Services

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): a tracing of your heartbeat
  • Echocardiogram (Transthoracic and Transesophageal). a test in which sound waves are used to produce a video image of your heart. Ultrasound images measures the function of heart, including its size, valves and chambers.
  • Event monitor or loop recorder: a monitor worn for approximately a month for patients who have less frequent irregular heartbeat episodes and/or symptoms
  • Implantable loop recorder (ILR). Device inserted under the skin (mid-lateral chest) to record arrhythmias. An injectable ILR can be inserted at bedside without sedation.
    Injectable vs. Regular Implantable ILR:
    --More memory
    --Wireless monitoring
    --Has remote activator (stores 6.5 minutes of data before remote activation)
    --Battery lasts three years vs. 18-24 months
    --Patient can have an MRI
  • Electrical cardioversion. After a short-acting anesthesia or sedative is given, an electrical shock is delivered to your heart through patches or paddles placed on your chest. This procedure frequently restores a normal rhythm but its effect may not be permanent.
  • Electrophysiology study. This procedure allows doctors to determine exactly what your rhythm problem is and choose appropriate treatment.
  • Catheter ablation. Ablation therapy is used for people who cannot tolerate medications or when medications cannot maintain a normal heart rhythm. These procedures are performed by a highly trained cardiac electrophysiologist. Various energy sources (radiofrequency and cryo) are used to destroy (ablate) abnormal heart tissue that causes or sustains the abnormal heart rhythm. The two types of ablation that can be performed include pulmonary vein isolation or ablation of the AV node. Cardiac ablation cases can treat heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias), including atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, supraventricular tachycardia, Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome and ventricular tachycardia.
  • Pulmonary vein isolation. Research has proven that most atrial fibrillation signals come from the four pulmonary veins. During this procedure, special catheters are inserted into the blood vessels of the atrium. A catheter is used to locate the abnormal impulses coming from the pulmonary veins. Another catheter is used to deliver the radiofrequency energy to create scars that block any electrical impulse from firing within the pulmonary veins. This technique is repeated for all four pulmonary veins.
  • AV node ablation. Catheters are inserted through the veins (usually in the groin) and guided to the heart. Radiofrequency energy is delivered through the catheter to disconnect the electrical pathway in the AV node. The AV node is a pathway which separates the top and lower chambers of the heart. This technique will cause a permanent, very slow heart rate. A permanent pacemaker will be implanted to maintain an adequate heart rate.
  • Permanent pacemaker. A pacemaker is a device that sends small electrical impulses to pace the heart when its own rhythm is too slow or irregular.
  • Defibrillator. A defibrillator is a device that sends electrical pulses or shocks to the heart to help control life-threatening heart arrhythmias, especially those patients at risk for sudden cardiac death.
  • Biventricular Pacemaker and/or Defibrillator. This therapy helps the heart helps the heart pump better because both ventricles (bottom chambers of the heart) are in sync. Congestive heart failure symptoms are improved.
  • Left atrial appendage closure. These devices involve the use of a permanent implant designed to close the left atrial appendage in the heart in an effort to reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Maze procedure. This procedure is performed by a highly trained cardiothoracic surgeon. Small, precise incisions are made in the right and left atria (top chambers of the heart) to isolate and prevent abnormal electrical impulses from forming. Radiofrequency (ablation) or cryotherapy (freezing) can be applied to the outside surface of the heart. The procedure may require open heart surgery. However, a less invasive technique may be used in which a small chest incision is made.

Make an Appointment

Patients

 

Call 1-844-SOS-AFIB (1-844-767-2342)

Leave your name, date of birth and phone number. A member of our staff will contact you and schedule an appointment.Your care will be coordinated by our team of nurse practitioners and electrophysiologist physicians.

 

Please bring to your appointment:

  • Name of referring physician or primary physician
  • Insurance cards

 

If an emergency, call 911.

 

Providers

 

Call 1-844-SOS-AFIB (1-844-767-2342)
Leave all pertinent information including a phone number.A member of our staff will contact you.

Medical Team

Our team of Electrophysiologists and Nurse Practitioners are committed to providing highly advanced treatment options for chronic or paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.

 

Karl Crossen, M.D.:  Received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He completed his medical studies at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, and his internal medicine internship and residency at Washington University School of Medicine, where he also served as chief medical resident and completed cardiology and electrophysiology fellowships.

Dr. Crossen is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease and clinical cardiac electrophysiology. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and joined the NMMC medical staff in 1998.

 

James E. "Jim" Stone Jr., M.D.: Received a bachelor's degree in physics from Mississippi State University. He completed his medical studies at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and his internal medicine internship and residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He also completed cardiology and electrophysiology fellowships at Wake Forest University Medical Center/North Carolina Baptist Hospital.

Dr. Stone is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease and clinical cardiac electrophysiology. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and joined the NMMC medical staff in 1999.

 

Karthik Venkatesh Prasad, M.D.: Received his bachelor’s degrees in medicine and surgery from J.J.M. Medical College in Davangere, India, and completed residency training in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiovascular diseases at the Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Mo. He subsequently completed a fellowship in cardiac electrophysiology at the University of Florida in Jacksonville.

Dr. Prasad is board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases, and is board-eligible in cardiac electrophysiology. He joined the NMMC medical staff in 2017.

 

 

Toni Burnett, AGNP-C: Received her bachelor of science degree from Mississippi University for Women in 2005. She completed her master's degree in nursing at South University in 2017. She is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care and completed the Advanced Practice Clinician Fellowship training program at NMMC.

 

 

 

Dorothy K. Wilson, FNP-C: Received her associate's degree in nursing at Itawamba Community College. She obtained her bachelor's degree in nursing from Mississippi University for Women and her master's degree in nursing from the University of South Alabama. She is certified by American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in family practice. Additionally, she holds a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems and a master’s degree in information systems from Strayer University.

 

 

 

Mary Yates, FNP-C: Received her associate's degree from Northeast Mississippi Community College. She completed her bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing at Mississippi University for Women. She is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in family practice. She did her fellowship in acute care training with the Advanced Practice Clinician Fellowship at NMMC.