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Non-Surgical Heart Disease Treatments

While some heart disease cases require surgery, there are alternative, less-invasive options.

  • Ablation therapy/ Atrial fibrillation ablation - Ablation therapy uses small burns or freezes to cause some scarring on the inside of the heart that break up the electrical signals that cause irregular heartbeats, thus helping the heart maintain a normal rhythm. The procedure is usually performed using a catheter that is inserted into the arteries or veins. It is considered a low risk procedure.

  • Atrial flutter ablation - Atrial flutter ablation is a procedure that blocks the electrical signals that cause a fluttering heartbeat, to treat the upper chambers of your heart that beat too quickly.

  • Cardiac ablation - In many cases, medication is used to treat irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmia. Some patients, however, do not respond to medication, making cardiac ablation the most effective option. Your cardiologist will determine the best course for you based on the results of diagnostic tests.

  • Cardiac catheterization - Cardiac catheterization (also referred to as cardiac cath or heart cath) is a procedure that is used to examine how well your heart is working. A thin, hollow tube, or catheter, is inserted into a large blood vessel that leads to your heart.

  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy - Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) is treatment to help your heart beat with the right rhythm. It uses a pacemaker to restore the normal timing pattern of the heartbeat. The CRT pacemaker coordinates timing of the upper heart chambers (atria) and the lower heart chambers (ventricles).

  • Carotid angioplasty and stenting - Carotid angioplasty is a procedure that helps to improve the blood flow in an artery or vein. The carotid artery runs along each side of your neck. The procedure involves doctors placing a thin tube with a balloon at its tip to open up the artery to improve blood flow. It is a minimally invasive procedure and considered non-surgical. Stenting is when a small mesh tube is placed into a blocked artery. It is made of either stainless steel or cobalt chromium and is designed to improve blood flow, with the goal of reducing or eliminating symptoms of chest pain.

  • Cardioversion - Cardioversion helps to return an abnormal heartbeat to a normal rhythm. It is used to prevent fainting, stroke, heart attack, or sudden cardiac arrest. A scheduled procedure that is performed in the hospital, it involves electrical shocks to the chest. Patients usually are able to return home the same day.

  • Coronary angiogram - Coronary angiograms use X-ray imaging to view your heart’s blood vessels, to determine if there are any restrictions to blood flow to your heart.

  • Coronary angioplasty and stents - Coronary angioplasty is similar to the carotid angioplasty (see above), in that it is used to improve blood flow to heart by opening blocked arteries through the use of a narrow tube with a balloon at the tip. It is a minimally invasive procedure.

  • EP study - An EP (electrophysiology) study is performed to determine your heart’s electrical system or activity. It is used to diagnose abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmia. It is administered by inserting catheters and then wire electrodes which measure electrical activity through blood vessels that enter the heart.

  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) - An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, or ICD, is a small, battery-powered device. It is placed in your chest to detect and to stop irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias). The ICD device monitors your heartbeat. It delivers electric shocks, when needed, to restore your heart’s regular rhythm.

  • Implantable loop monitor - An implantable loop monitor is a device that is implanted underneath the skin near the breastbone. For a period up to 3 years, it serves as a continuous monitor of your heart rhythm. If you have symptoms that are infrequent – several months out of the year or possibly yearly – this device will record your heart rhythm.

  • Pacemaker - A cardiac pacemaker is an electronic device, implanted in your body that monitors heart rate and rhythm. It gives the heart electrical stimulation when it does not beat normally. It operates on batteries with long, thin wires that connect it to your heart. It is also referred to as an artificial pacemaker.

  • Percutaneous valve procedures - Patients that undergo a percutaneous value procedure do so because they have a diseased heart valve that needs to be replaced. The procedure is minimally invasive. The diseased valve is replaced with a new valve, which may be mechanical.

  • Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) - SVT is when you experience an irregular, rapid heartbeat in the upper chambers of the heart. One method of correcting this irregularity in your heart is accomplished by threading thin, flexible tubes, or catheters, through your blood vessels and into your heart. These catheters use heat or cold to correct the targeted tissue.

  • Transesophageal echocardiography - A transesophageal echocardiogram, abbreviated TEE, is performed by your doctor when there is a need to look more closely at your heart to determine if it could be producing blood clots. Similar to an echocardiogram, the TEE uses high frequency sound waves, or ultrasound, to examine the structures of your heart.

  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) - This procedure, also known as TAVR, replaces a diseased aortic valve with a man-made valve. It can also be performed with open-heart surgery, referred to as a surgical aortic valve replacement, or SAVR.

  • Mitra clip - A mitra clip is a device used to treat the mitral valve regurgitation for patients who are not candidates for open-heart surgery. It is implanted via a transcatheter technique. The procedure involves suturing together the anterior and posterior mitral valve leaflets.

  • Watchman procedure - The Watchman procedure is a one-time, minimally invasive procedure for patients with atrial fibrillation that is not caused by a heart value problem, also known as non-valvular AFib. AFib is one of the most common heart rhythm problems in the world and is the number one cause of strokes in patients over the age of 65. This very symptomatic disease can be alleviated by the Watchman procedure. Learn more about the Watchman procedure in this video from Dr. Neil Sanghvi, Director of Electrophysiology at UF Health St. Johns.

  • ASD and PFO closure - There are two types of holes in the heart – atrial septal defect (ASD), and patent foramen ovale (PFO) - that form in the wall tissue between the left and right upper chambers of the heart, also known as the septum. Both ASD and PFO can be treated at UF Health Flagler Hospital using minimally invasive, catheter-based interventions.