AFib Center

The Upstate Cardiology Atrial Fibrillation & Arrhythmia Center is one of the few cardiac facilities in the Southeast dedicated to the study and treatment of atrial fibrillation. Dr. Craig J. McCotter, MD of Upstate Cardiology, pioneered the concept of merging advanced arrhythmia management with advanced cardiology care.

Dr. McCotter and Dr. Matthew Sellers are Upstate Cardiology’s electrophysiologists.  They are specially trained in the field of electrophysiology which is the area of cardiology that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders.

Patients at the Upstate Cardiology Atrial Fibrillation & Arrhythmia Center will first be evaluated by a cardiologist. Based upon the findings, Upstate Cardiology will then work to develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atriall Fibrillation (AFib) refers to an irregular heart beat, which causes a quivering or fluttering sensation rather than the typical rhythmic pumping of the heart. AFib, or atrial flutter, affects more than 5 million Americans. AFib alone is not life threatening, but it can impair quality of life and increase the patient's risk for stroke and heart failure.

Symptoms of AFib include:

  • Racing, uncomfortable, or irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness, sweating, chest pain, or pressure
  • Overall feeling of weakness 

Other types of arrhythmia are also treated at Upstate Cardiology, including:

  • Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
  • Ventricular tachycardia (VT)
  • Congenital and acquired Cardiac Repolarization disorder

Detecting Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation can be detected by performing an electrocardiogram (EKG) or Electrophysiology Study (EP). Both studies can be performed in our offices, usually without a hospital visit.

Treatments for Atrial Fibrillation

There are two main AFib treatment options. The first option is known as Rate Control, or controlling the heart rate and alleviating symptoms caused by atrial fibrillation. Rate control can be achieved with medications, a pacemaker, or ablation treatment.

Rate Control Treatments

  • Medication: Medication can help manage your atrial flutter and prevent strokes. However, for some patients, the side effects of the medication impact quality of life more than the AFib itself.
  • Pacemaker: A more permanent solution for rate control is the placement of a pacemaker. After placement of a pacemaker, most patients can decrease or stop medication used for rate control, but will still need to continue medications to prevent strokes.
  • AV Node Ablation: AV Node Ablation is the process of altering the electrical pathways of the heart to restore a normal heart rate.

The second AFib treatment option is rhythm control, which seeks to restore the heart to a normal rhythm. Rhythm control AFib treatment options include anti-arrhythmia medications, cardioversion, catheter-based ablation, or surgical-based ablation.

Rhythm Control Treatments

  • Medication: Medication is a common AFib treatment that can help restore the heart to its normal rhythm.
  • Cardioversion: Electrical cardioversion is an AFib treatment that involves an electrical shock administered to the heart in order to restore a normal rhythm. 
  • Catheter-based Ablation: Catheter-based ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that consists of using a catheter guided into the heart to destroy the abnormal cells that are causing the arrhythmia.
  • Surgical Ablation: Surgical ablation is usually performed in conjunction with other cardiac surgeries such as coronary artery bypass or valve replacement.