Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center

(801) 507-4701Map5121 S. Cottonwood StreetMurray, UT 84107

Overview of Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). It is caused by an abnormal rhythm in the upper chambers of the heart (the atria). Normally, an electrical pulse travels through the heart about 60 to 100 times per minute while you're at rest. But with atrial fibrillation, the electrical pulses come too fast. The pulses in the upper chambers then compete for a chance to travel to the lower chambers of the heart. The result is a rapid, irregular heartbeat.

In a healthy heart, electrical impulses move smoothly from the SA node through the heart. The heart beats evenly and regularly.
With afib, the electrical impulses come too fast. Some of them circulate in the atria rather than passing through the heart.

Atrial Fibrillation in Depth

Learn more about atrial fibrillation from Intermountain's Patient Education Library:

Diagnostic Tests for Patients with Atrial Fibrillation

  • Electrophysiology Study

    A catheterization procedure in which small electrical impulses are delivered to the heart to help evaluate heart rhythm abnormalities.

Treatments for Atrial Fibrillation

Your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you. Possible treatments for atrial fibrillation include:

  • Ablation

    Ablation is a technique typically used to treat abnormal heart rates and rhythms (arrhythmias). It involves ablating (destroying) a very small, targeted area of the heart muscle.

  • MAZE Procedure (Heart Rhythm Surgery)

    The MAZE procedure is an open heart surgical procedure that treats atrial fibrillation by creating therapeutic scars on the heart muscle.

  • Medications

    Heart rhythm medications, also called antiarrhythmics, control irregular heartbeats — and maintain a normal heart rate and rhythm. Patients with atrial fibrillation may also need to take blood thinning medications to help prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of stroke.

  • GALAXY Procedure (Heart Rhythm Surgery)

    The GALAXY procedure is a revolutionary, minimally invasive operation developed at Intermountain Heart Institute. The procedure is designed to treat atrial fibrillation without the use of the heart-lung machine and with smaller, less painful incisions.

Services and Programs

Services and programs at Intermountain Heart Institute for patients with atrial fibrillation.

  • Heart Rhythm Program

    The Heart Rhythm Program focuses on heart arrhythmia treatments including electrophysiology studies, ablation, and pacemaker and ICD implantation.

  • Cardiothoracic Surgery

    Our Cardiothoracic Surgery Program provides all surgeries that are clinically available in the United States — along with high volumes and excellent outcomes.


The Heart Institute currently has one or more clinical trials that are enrolling patients with atrial fibrillation. Learn more about trials for atrial fibrillation and stroke prevention.

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