Treatment Programs

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Atrial Fibrillation Program

The Corrigan Minehan Heart Center's Atrial Fibrillation Program provides advanced care for atrial fibrillation (afib or AF) using catheter ablation with a variety of energy sources, including radiofrequency ablation, cryoablation and laser.

Individualized Care for Atrial Fibrillation

Our Commitment to Referring Physicians

When you refer a patient to the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center, our clinicians will:

  • Review the patient’s medical history and test results
  • Determine whether additional diagnostic testing is needed
  • Provide a detailed interpretation of cardiac tests
  • Provide timely updates on the patient’s progress
  • Return the patient to your care as quickly as possible
  • Provide educational information
  • Recommend strategies to manage your patient’s condition

The Massachusetts General Hospital Corrigan Minehan Heart Center is among the world’s leading diagnostic and treatment centers for patients with all types of heart rhythm conditions, including atrial fibrillation.

As part of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service, our Atrial Fibrillation Program provides highly individualized care for patients with this disease.

Delivering individualized care means recognizing that each patient’s situation is unique. Our model of care emphasizes working closely with you, your referring physician and a team of atrial fibrillation specialists at Mass General to develop a customized treatment plan that decreases your stroke risk and reduces or eliminates your symptoms.

Your treatment plan is based on factors such as:

  • Age
  • Lifestyle
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Type of atrial fibrillation
  • The presence of associated heart disease in addition to atrial fibrillation

A Team Approach to Care

Each member of your Corrigan Minehan Heart Center care team specializes in treating atrial fibrillation and other cardiac arrhythmias. Care teams typically include specialists such as an electrophysiologist (a cardiologist who specializes in heart rhythm conditions), a cardiologist, a cardiac radiologist, an echocardiographer and a cardiac anesthesiologist, as well as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

A team approach combined with high-volume experience enhances our ability to:

  • Determine the cause of your condition
  • Develop a treatment plan that optimizes safety and effectiveness
  • Decrease your stroke risk and reduce or eliminate symptoms
  • Monitor your progress and response to treatment

What to Expect

At your first visit, you will meet with one of our doctors along with a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. The doctor will conduct a physical exam and review your medical history and laboratory tests.

If more diagnostic information is needed, additional testing may be advised. Our team includes cardiac radiologists who evaluate your heart by using advanced imaging technology capable of rendering the heart in remarkable detail.

Patient education is a cornerstone of our care model. During your first and subsequent visits, we will partner with you to ensure that you understand your condition and treatment options. We want to be sure you have the information you need to make educated decisions about your immediate and long-term care.

Leading Treatments & Procedures

Our program is internationally recognized for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation and other cardiac arrhythmias, and patients have access to the most advanced treatments.

Observation or medication is typically the first option for managing patients, but some require a procedural intervention to achieve control of their atrial fibrillation and its symptoms.

Medications include:

  • Anticoagulants for stroke prevention
  • Medications for heart-rate control during atrial fibrillation
  • Antiarrhythmic medications for prevention of atrial fibrillation

Catheter Ablation

Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that aims to restore the normal heart rhythm by inactivating the tissue that triggers and perpetuates atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias.

Our team of experts has made important contributions that have helped advance the field of catheter ablation using radiofrequency (heat) energy. Moreover, we pioneered the use of cryoablation (cold energy) as an alternative energy source and have found it to be very successful in many patients. Members of our team are also investigating the use of a visually-guided laser ablation as a new energy source to perform catheter ablation.

Types of catheter ablations:

  • Pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) is a minimally invasive procedure in which a flexible catheter is inserted into the heart via a vein in the leg to electrically isolate the pulmonary veins from the rest of the heart. This procedure can eliminate or significantly reduce the severity and frequency of atrial fibrillation episodes in the majority of patients
  • Atrial flutter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure where the physician targets the area in which the circuit for atrial flutter is located. By inactivating this tissue, the atrial flutter can be eliminated
  • AV node ablation is reserved for patients who have advanced heart disease in addition to having atrial fibrillation and/or atrial flutter. The AV node is ablated and a permanent pacemaker with or without a defibrillator is inserted. This procedure eliminates the arrhythmias and helps maintain a normal heart rate

Our program also offers:

  • The WATCHMAN device, a left atrial appendage closure device designed to replace blood-thinning medications such as warfarin to prevent strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation. Our physicians pioneered the use of this device. WATCHMAN is for investigational use only in the United States
  • Electrical cardioversion, a noninvasive procedure in which the normal heart rhythm is restored as a result of a synchronized electrical shock delivered to the heart through the chest wall using skin patches
  • The MAZE procedure, reserved for patients who have atrial fibrillation and need open heart surgery for a heart valve repair/replacement and/or a coronary artery bypass. This procedure is performed by cardiothoracic surgeons in close collaboration with the electrophysiologists

One Call Coordinates Care

Please call 866-MGH-8910 (866-644-8910) or complete this form to request an appointment. Our access team is available to triage your call and arrange a prompt evaluation with the most appropriate atrial fibrillation specialist.

The Benefits of a Regular Heartbeat

Our Commitment to Referring Physicians

When you refer a patient to the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center, our clinicians will:

  • Review the patient’s medical history and test results
  • Determine whether additional diagnostic testing is needed
  • Provide a detailed interpretation of cardiac tests
  • Provide timely updates on the patient’s progress
  • Return the patient to your care as quickly as possible
  • Provide educational information
  • Recommend strategies to manage your patient’s condition

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia. In this disease, electrical signals in the atria (the upper two chambers of the heart) fire in a fast and uncontrolled manner. Because the atria quiver rather than contract, blood is not pumped completely out of the atria. The remaining blood may pool and/or clot, which significantly increases the risk of stroke.

Patients with atrial fibrillation often suffer debilitating symptoms, including palpitations, rapid heart action, fatigue, loss of energy, shortness of breath, lightheadedness and chest discomfort. Restoring a regular heartbeat can dramatically improve quality of life by:

  • Eliminating or alleviating these symptoms
  • Lowering the risk of stroke
  • Preventing irreversible damage to the heart muscle

Leaders in Diagnosing & Treating Arrhythmias

The Atrial Fibrillation Program is part of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center. Since 1978 our service has provided state-of-the-art care for patients with all types of cardiac arrhythmias, with atrial fibrillation as our primary focus.

Mass General physicians have significantly advanced the care for atrial fibrillation and other cardiac arrhythmias. Among our major contributions to the field:

  • We were among the first in the world to treat atrial fibrillation using catheter ablation, with both radiofrequency and cryoablation
  • We were the first in the world to use image integration, a technology that blends high-quality images of the heart to create three-dimensional views of unprecedented accuracy, for guiding catheter ablation
  • We are among the first in the nation to offer the Watchman procedure, an innovative technique to prevent blood clots in the part of the heart called the left atrial appendage
  • We are pioneering the development of a tool to assess the severity of symptoms associated with atrial fibrillation, a critical step for determining the most effective treatment plan
  • We are one of a small number of centers pioneering the use of MRI to guide catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation and to predict the success of this procedure

An International Reputation for Excellence

Today, the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service is recognized internationally for its work in the field of clinical electrophysiology, a cardiac subspecialty focused on abnormal heart rhythms.

Our physicians are Harvard Medical School faculty who:

  • Conduct research to further our understanding of cardiac arrhythmias and advance the field
  • Help write treatment guidelines for atrial fibrillation used by doctors and hospitals throughout the world.
  • Participate in the development of devices for the treatment of atrial fibrillation and stroke prevention.
  • Publish extensively in leading academic journals and present their findings at major scientific meetings

The Atrial Fibrillation Program is directed by Moussa Mansour, MD and Jeremy Ruskin, MD. Their major clinical interest is treating atrial fibrillation, and they are active clinical consultants in all aspects of this disease (e.g. medical treatment, catheter ablation and stroke prevention).

Dr. Mansour and his colleagues have mastered the art of catheter ablation using radiofrequency and complete a large number of these procedures every year.

The team members continue to pioneer the use of new technologies for ablation for atrial fibrillation, including cryoablation and laser balloon ablation for pulmonary vein isolation. In addition, they perform implantation of the Watchman device for stroke prevention.

Our team members also study the genetic basis of atrial fibrillation to uncover its underlying causes. Since 2001 our studies have enrolled more than 900 participants and have helped identify two new genes that cause atrial fibrillation.

Patients in our program may be able to participate in clinical research studies of new technologies and treatments available only at few other hospitals in the world. Browse open clinical trials

Research Aimed at Improving Patient Care

The Cardiac Arrhythmia Service was founded to conduct groundbreaking research into atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias, a mission that continues today.

Through our preclinical research, we develop new tools for treating patients (e.g. catheters, mapping systems, imaging technologies). Clinical research involves studying these new technologies in greater depth to bring new treatments to patients as quickly as possible. Browse open clinical trials

Training the Next Generation of Atrial Fibrillation Specialists

As part of a world-class academic medical center, the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center is committed to educating the next generation of medical professionals. We have trained more than 100 fellows from all over the world. Many have gone on to direct similar programs or assume other leadership positions in the field.

Additionally, our physicians direct and host the annual International Boston Atrial Fibrillation Symposium, the leading scientific meeting on the causes and treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Conditions & Diseases

At the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center, patient education is a cornerstone in our model of care. Use the links below to learn how atrial fibrillation affects heart function and understand the benefits of a normal heart beat.

We have included links to information about other diseases and conditions treated by the Atrial Fibrillation Program as well as information about strokes and TIAs (mini-strokes). Our primary goal in treating patients with atrial fibrillation is preventing stroke and reducing stroke risk.

Atrial Flutter

Atrial Flutter is a type of arrhythmia in which the electrical signal fires rapidly but regularly from one or more regions in the atria (upper chambers of the heart), causing an increased heart rate that can sometimes progress into atrial fibrillation.

Sinus Rhythm

Normal sinus rhythm is the normal rhythm of the heart in which an electrical impulse originates in the sinus node, which then stimulates the atria (upper chambers of the heart) to contract and empty blood into the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart). The impulse then travels to the ventricles, which then contract and push blood out of the heart to the rest of the body.

Stroke

Stroke, also called brain attack, occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Also known as a "mini-stroke," a transient ischemic attack produces stroke-like symptoms but produces no permanent damage.

Arrhythmias

Arrhythmias are heart rhythm disorders that may originate in the atria (the receiving chambers of the heart) or the ventricles (the pumping chambers of the heart).

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia where the electrical signals in the atria (the two small chambers of the heart) are fired in a very fast and uncontrolled manner.

Support & Wellness

Mass General is dedicated to ensuring that people understand their health care choices and have the necessary information to make decisions affecting their health and well being. The related support and wellness information listed below can play a role in treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cardiac Anesthesia

The Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center offers a patient guide to cardiac anesthesia. Our dedicated clinicians believe it is important for you to know what to expect before, during and after a cardiac anesthesia.

Patient and Family Guide to the Heart Center (PDF)

Download our patient and family guide to the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center to learn about accommodations, visiting and parking, and patient discharge.

Patient Guide to Pulmonary Vein Isolation (PDF)

This guide has been prepared by clinicians from the Mass General Heart Center's Atrial Fibrillation Program who focus on the care of patients with this arrhythmia. The guide is designed to provide you with information about what to expect before, during and after a catheter ablation procedure (also known as Pulmonary Vein Isolation or PVI).

Patient Guide To An Electrical Cardioversion

Clinicians from the Mass General Heart Center's Atrial Fibrillation Program created this guide to help patients with atrial fibrillation and/or atrial flutter prepare for their upcoming cardioversion. Download this guide to learn about what to expect before, during and after an electrical cardioversion.

Atrial Fibrillation Patient Education Classes

The Atrial fibrillation patient education classes will provide attendees a complete understanding of Atrial fibrillation including stroke prevention, ablation and medical treatment.

Patient Guide to Atrial Fibrillation

A patient guide to Atrial fibrillation and stroke prevention.

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

A rhythm thrown off

James Puzinas, a 47-year-old fine art dealer from Massachusetts, has a rhythm in his life. He spends his days buying and selling American paintings around the country and living an active lifestyle - working outdoors, swimming, bicycling and downhill skiing. When he started feeling exhausted after doing simple yard work, Puzinas’s rhythm was thrown off, but he attributed the heaviness in his legs to age.

Heart device may replace the need for long-term blood thinning medications

Mass General Heart Center physicians are evaluating a new medical device that shows promise in preventing strokes among patients with atrial fibrillation.

Freezing atrial fibrillation in its tracks

Cryoballoon ablation is a new procedure available at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center that is showing promise as an alternative therapy to treat atrial fibrillation, a type of heart rhythm disorder.

Watchman Device May Offer an Alternative to Warfarin for Atrial Fibrillation Patients

Advances Spring 2011 Issue. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of sustained irregular heartbeat. It affects approximately 6 million U.S. adults, mainly those ages 65 and older.

New Procedure Treats Atrial Fibrillation Without Blood Thinners

Ed Cleary came to Massachusetts General Hospital in June 2012 to get his AFib treated. He had tried taking a blood thinner to help manage his AFib, but bled too much. Fortunately, he qualified for a new procedure now being used for the first time in New England by Mass General Hospital.

An advanced cardiac CT scanner

Physicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center use leading-edge technology to identify possible cardiac abnormalities.

The Watchman at work

Mass General Heart Center physicians offer a new technique to prevent blood clots in the part of the heart called the left atrial appendage. This innovative procedure shows promise in preventing strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation, freeing them from dependence on blood thinning medications.

Ask Yourself -- Ellinor

Patrick Ellinor, MD, discusses atrial fibrillation (AFib), its connection to stroke, and the new treatment options available at Mass General.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cardiac Anesthesia

The Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center offers a patient guide to cardiac anesthesia. Our dedicated clinicians believe it is important for you to know what to expect before, during and after a cardiac anesthesia.

Patient and Family Guide to the Heart Center (PDF)

Download our patient and family guide to the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center to learn about accommodations, visiting and parking, and patient discharge.

Patient Guide to Pulmonary Vein Isolation (PDF)

This guide has been prepared by clinicians from the Mass General Heart Center's Atrial Fibrillation Program who focus on the care of patients with this arrhythmia. The guide is designed to provide you with information about what to expect before, during and after a catheter ablation procedure (also known as Pulmonary Vein Isolation or PVI).

Patient Guide To An Electrical Cardioversion

Clinicians from the Mass General Heart Center's Atrial Fibrillation Program created this guide to help patients with atrial fibrillation and/or atrial flutter prepare for their upcoming cardioversion. Download this guide to learn about what to expect before, during and after an electrical cardioversion.

Atrial Fibrillation Patient Education Classes

The Atrial fibrillation patient education classes will provide attendees a complete understanding of Atrial fibrillation including stroke prevention, ablation and medical treatment.

Patient Guide to Atrial Fibrillation

A patient guide to Atrial fibrillation and stroke prevention.

Corrigan Minehan Heart Center

55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 866-MGH-8910

Public Transportation Access: yes
Disabled Access: yes


If you are a new patient, you may call the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center outpatient access office at 866-MGH-8910, or complete our online appointment form to request an appointment. A member of our access team will ask you more about your condition and symptoms, and match you with the best-fitting Corrigan Minehan Heart Center physician.

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Request an appointment at the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center

Call the Massachusetts General Hospital Corrigan Minehan Heart Center outpatient access nurse at 866-MGH-8910

Learn about the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center in Waltham

Did you know the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center has a convenient location in Waltham? Learn about treatments and services at our outpatient care center.