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Why choose UCLA Health for arrhythmia care?
The UCLA Health Cardiac Arrhythmia Center is one of the most comprehensive centers of its kind in the country. We provide world-class care to patients of all ages using the most advanced diagnostic and treatment tools.
Additional highlights of our program include:
Multispecialty care: Specialists from multiple UCLA Health centers work together to offer comprehensive care. Our team includes experts in cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery and adult congenital heart disease. We also work closely with the Ahmanson UCLA Health Cardiomyopathy Center, the largest heart failure program in the western United States.
Access to genetic testing: Many heart arrhythmias are genetic. We offer patients and families access to genetic testing and counseling about the possibility of inherited disorders.
Training and research: The Cardiac Arrhythmia Center is a major resource for research and training. We host cardiologists from around the world and offer a fellowship in cardiac electrophysiology (study of the heart’s electrical activity). Our world-renowned research team is shaping the future of cardiac electrophysiology to improve patient care and outcomes.
Our doctors care for patients through multiple programs in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Center. Services include:
Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Program
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm. We treat patients with AFib using state-of-the-art techniques. We specialize in treating patients who have AFib and co-existing conditions such as heart failure, congenital heart disease (present at birth) or previous heart surgery.
Arrhythmia management in congenital heart disease
We offer comprehensive care for patients who have arrhythmias and adult congenital heart disease. Our arrhythmia experts work with specialists in the Ahmanson/UCLA Health Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center.
Inherited Cardiac Arrhythmia Program
This clinical, research and educational program focuses on treating patients with inherited arrhythmias. We provide comprehensive evaluations so that you understand the diagnosis and how to manage it.
Ventricular Tachycardia Program
Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is a fast, potentially life-threatening heart rhythm. It’s often caused by other heart problems. Surgery to treat VT involves complex ablation procedures. Multiple heart specialists work together to ensure patient safety and optimal outcomes.
Conditions we treat
Many conditions can affect the heart’s rhythm. Some of the conditions we treat in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Center include:
Atrial fibrillation (AFib): When the two upper heart chambers (atria) don’t beat in coordination, leading to an irregular or fluttery heartbeat
Atrial flutter: When the atria beat too quickly, often causing a fast heartbeat
Bradycardia: A slow heart rate, typically below 60 beats per minute
Tachycardia: A fast heart rate, typically above 100 beats per minute
Premature ventricular contractions: Extra, early heartbeats that start in the heart’s two lower chambers (ventricles)
Ventricular tachycardia: A fast heart rate that starts in the ventricles
Ventricular fibrillation: A dangerous, life-threatening arrhythmia that occurs when the ventricles don’t beat in coordination and quiver (fibrillate) instead
Arrhythmia treatments we offer
Our specialists offer a wide range of advanced treatments for arrhythmias including:
For many patients, the first arrhythmia treatment is medication. Various medications can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as slow the progression of heart disease. Common medications include:
Anticoagulants: Also known as blood thinners, these drugs make it more difficult for your blood to form clots.
Beta blockers: These medicines lower your blood pressure by slowing your heart rate.
Calcium channel blockers: These drugs decrease blood pressure and treat arrhythmias by blocking the flow of calcium into your heart and blood vessels.
Some patients with arrythmias benefit from implantable devices that monitor and control irregular heart rhythms. The devices are typically placed in the chest. Some have wires, called leads, that extend to the heart. We offer exceptional care and specialize in difficult or failed implants. Services include:
Pacemaker implant: This device uses low-level electrical impulses to control an abnormal heart rhythm.
Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implant: An ICD detects a life-threatening arrythmia, such as the type that can cause sudden cardiac arrest. When this happens, the ICD delivers high-level electrical pulses to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.
Lead extraction: Although device wires (leads) should stay in the body long-term, sometimes they need to be removed. In rare cases, a surgeon may also need to remove the device if it becomes infected . Our arrhythmia specialists work with cardiac surgeons to remove leads using laser technology.
Outpatient Device Clinic: Through this clinic, our specialists perform thousands of device checks each year to monitor function and ensure excellent outcomes.
This nonsurgical treatment uses electrical shocks to correct an irregular heart rhythm. It takes only a few minutes for the heart to return to a normal rhythm.
Electrical cardioversion is different than defibrillation. Defibrillation is an emergency procedure that uses higher-strength shocks to correct a life-threatening arrhythmia. Doctors typically schedule electrical cardioversion in advance. It is an outpatient procedure, meaning patients can go home the same day as the treatment.
Catheter ablation using stereotaxis magnetic navigation
We are one of only four centers in California with a stereotaxis magnetic navigation system. The doctor controls its low-level magnetic field to guide the catheter during ablation. The system also integrates with standard and 3D X-rays, allowing us to view the position of the catheter in real-time. This technology enables us to operate with even more precision and stability.
Percutaneous epicardial ablation
Sometimes an abnormal heart rhythm occurs in tissues just outside the heart muscle. To access this area, our surgeons insert a needle through the chest into the lining of the sac that surrounds the heart (pericardium). Then they insert the catheter ablation tool. We were the first center in the western United States with a program dedicated to this innovative procedure.
Our electrophysiologists (doctors who specialize in the heart’s electrical system) and surgery teams work together closely. We use innovative approaches to manage arrhythmias, such as the Maze procedure . This minimally invasive surgery uses extreme heat or cold energy to create scar tissue in the upper heart chambers. The scar tissue blocks irregular electrical impulses that cause AFib.
Our specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating all types of arrhythmias. In addition to providing exceptional patient care, our physicians conduct research and train the next generation of clinical leaders.