Heart rhythm treatments aid in treating heart arrhythmias, also known as irregular heartbeats. There are many available medications, devices, and invasive therapies to treat irregular heart rhythms.

Types of Heart Rhythm Treatments

Heart Ablation

For arrhythmias caused by abnormal heart tissue, catheter radiofrequency ablation (heat) can be used to destroy the abnormal heart tissue.

Catheters (thin, flexible tubes) are threaded through the patient's blood vessels to reach the abnormal heart tissue. The cardiologist then uses a small cutter or radiofrequency energy to remove the abnormal tissue. The procedure does not require open chest surgery.


This procedure corrects an abnormal heart rhythm. It uses energy pulses to change the way your heart's electrical signals flow.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

For arrhythmias in which the heart beats too rapidly (tachycardia) or quivers (fibrillates) instead of contracting strongly, an internal cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can be surgically implanted.

The ICD sends electronic signals to the heart whenever the heart rate reaches a specified limit or goes very high. These signals shock the heart into beating more slowly and pumping more effectively. An ICD is generally not used to treat atrial fibrillation.



A pacemaker is a device that helps regulate the heartbeat. The device, smaller than a matchbox, is placed under the skin near the collarbone. A wire extends from the pacemaker to the heart.

If a pacemaker detects an abnormally slow heart rate (bradycardia) or no heartbeat, it emits electrical impulses that stimulate the heart to speed up or resume beating.

A pacemaker is often implanted if medications to prevent arrhythmia or control the heart rate result in an excessively slow rate, and following AV node ablation.


Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device (LAAC)

Patients with AFib may be at a higher risk of stroke caused by blood clots that form in the left atrial appendage (LAA). The LAA is a small pocket (or recess) connected to the upper left chamber of the heart that, in people with AFib, can allow blood to pool and collect and increase the likelihood of a clot forming and traveling to the brain to cause a stroke.

Are there eligibility requirements for left atrial appendage closure devices?
Yes. Your cardiologist and/or electrophysiologist will review the requirements with you to determine if you are a candidate. Here are the criteria:

  • Do you have Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) not caused by heart valve problems (non-valvular AFib)?
  • Has your doctor recommended that you take a blood thinner for your AFib?
  • Can you take Warfarin but need an alternative to long-term blood thinners for one of the reasons below?
    • You have a history of serious bleeding while taking blood thinners.
    • You have a lifestyle, occupation or condition that puts you at risk for serious bleeding.
    • You are taking Warfarin and having trouble with your treatment plan, and a different type of blood thinner isn’t an option for you.

Patients at Memorial Hermann have access to the latest options for left atrial appendage closure devices These are small parachute-shaped devices that permanently close off the left atrial appendage (LAA), a site where clots can form and increase the risk of stroke. The device permanently closes off this part of your heart to keep those blood clots from escaping. Ninety percent of blood clots that come from the heart are formed in the LAA.

Implantation takes about an hour and once the device is implanted, it will not require replacement. You will be given general anesthesia so that you will be asleep during the procedure. The physician will make a small incision in your groin or leg, insert the device into a blood vessel and guide it to the heart.

In addition to reducing a patient’s risk of stroke, the LAA closure device eliminates the need for blood-thinning medications.

Memorial Hermann offers WATCHMAN FLX™ and AMULET™ left atrial appendage closure devices for patients.

AMULET Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device

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