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A procedure used to treat abnormal heart rhythms.

Cardiac ablation is a procedure that can correct heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias). Ablation typically uses catheters — long, flexible tubes inserted through a vein in your groin and threaded to your heart — to correct structural problems in your heart that cause an arrhythmia.

Ablation - Non Surgical

A procedure which is performed in an electrophysiology (EP) lab. The doctor puts several tubes in the femoral vein, which is located in the groin area. The patient receives sedation but is arousable. The procedure can take from 15 minutes up to 6 hours. It usually requires an overnight admission. There is no significant period of recovery; work and driving can be resumed within 48 hours.

Ablation - Surgical

This procedure is performed in an operating room and can be "minimally invasive" or traditional "open" surgery. This is usually done in conjunction with another heart surgery procedure such as a bypass or valve replacement.

AED (Automated External Defibrillator)

A portable electric device that can automatically detect a potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmia and treat it by delivering an electric shock, allowing the heart to establish a normal rhythm. This must be performed by another individual.

AICD (Automated Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator)

A battery powered device that is implanted into patients who are at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. The device can detect an abnormal rhythm and deliver an electrical shock to correct it. It requires a minor surgical procedure, usually overnight. The procedure requires minimal recovery time and one can return to normal activities within 3 weeks.

Aortic Aneurysm

A ballooning of the aorta, representing a weakness in the wall, increasing the risk of rupture. Risk factors include hypertension and smoking. One can have an aneurysm of the ascending aorta versus the descending aorta. Treatment and risk depends on which location is affected. Descending aneurysms usually can be treated non-surgically with stents as an overnight procedure, while ascending aneurysms currently require a major surgical procedure.

A-fib (atrial fibrillation)

One of the most common arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat). It may be associated with symptoms such as palpitations or fatigue. A-fib increases the risk of stroke. Depending on their risk, patients with A-fib often take anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin), dabigatran (Pradaxa) or rivaroxaban (Xarelto). A-fib may be treated with medications to slow the heart rate (rate control) or convert the rhythm to normal (rhythm control); or by electric cardioversion. Ablation is sometimes used for situations when medication and cardioversion are ineffective.


Angina is a type of chest pain caused by decreased blood flow to the heart muscle. Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease. Angina is typically described as: squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in the chest. Angina is often reproducible, brought on by exertion and relieved with rest. Angina can be hard to distinguish from other types of chest pain, such as the pain or discomfort of indigestion. If you have unexplained chest pain, seek medical attention right away. Angina is analogous to a garden hose (coronary artery) with a kink (blockage) in it, resulting in reduced water (oxygen) supply to the lawn (heart) resulting in pain called Angina.

Angiogram (Cardiac Catheterization)

Imaging technique that allows for the visualization of blood vessels. When doing an angiogram of the heart, the physician can see: the coronary arteries, the valve function, the pressure measurements in the 4 chambers of the heart and lungs, and the function of the heart. This is an invasive outpatient procedure during which the patient is given mild sedation. One can usually drive and work the next day.


A technique of manually widening a narrow or obstructed blood vessel by inflating a balloon. A collapsed balloon on a guide wire is passed into the narrowing blood vessel and then inflated, thus opening up the blood vessel for improved flow. A stent may or may not be used to ensure that the vessel stays open longer. Angioplasty without a stent has chances of restenosis (blockage coming back) up to 70%. This is an invasive procedure with the patient having mild sedation. It typically requires an overnight stay. One can usually drive and work the next day.

Aortic regurgitation (aortic insufficiency)

Leaking of the aortic valve of the heart, causing blood to flow in the reverse direction. The main chamber of the heart is called the left ventricle. The aortic valve can be thought of as a “door” separating the left ventricle from the aorta (the body’s largest artery). Blood typically is pumped from the left ventricle into the aorta, supplying blood to the rest of the body. In aortic valve regurgitation, the aortic valve, “the door” does not close completely, causing the back-flow of blood from the aorta into the left ventricle. This puts stress on the heart as it has to pump extra blood in order to make it to the rest of the body. If the regurgitation is severe it can cause symptoms of shortness of breath and fatigue. Eventually, left untreated it can cause heart failure. This is usually a very slow process taking decades before damage is done. One needs yearly follow-ups with echocardiograms to assess progression of the condition. Treatment is initially medical and eventually may require a valve replacement with surgery.

Aortic stenosis (AS)

A narrowing of the opening of the aortic valve. Symptoms of AS are related to disease severity and can include: shortness of breath, angina, and syncope. Symptomatic AS may require aortic valve replacement. In aortic Stenosis, the front valve of the main pumping chamber, called the left ventricle doesn’t open fully, so pressure builds up in the heart chamber as well as limiting flow to vital organs. When the blockage is severe, heart failure can occur. Treatment is rarely done with balloons and almost always requires surgery when it is severe. New treatment is available for high risk patients, in which a stent valve can be placed via the leg artery, thereby avoiding surgery.

Aortic valve replacement

A procedure in which a patient’s aortic valve is replaced with a new valve. Valve replacements may be mechanical (metal) or tissue (animal tissue). It may be performed by cardiac surgery (open or minimally invasive approach) or by percutaneous implantation. This is done for patients with significant aortic Stenosis or regurgitation.


The normal heart rhythm is called sinus (the beat originates in the sinus node where the pacemaker of the heart is) with a rate between 60-100 beats per minute. Any aberration of this is called an arrhythmia. It can be benign or life threatening. Arrhythmia’s are classified based on their place of origin, i.e. atrial and ventricular arrhythmia’s start in the atrium and ventricle, respectively.


Hardening of the arteries as a result of accumulation of fatty materials, such as: cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue. In severe cases, blood flow to the affected artery can be obstructed.

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