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Arrhythmia and Heart Rhythm Disorders

The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center offers unmatched heart arrhythmia expertise in St. Louis and the surrounding region. For thousands of patients each year, we find the cause of heart rhythm changes. Treatment can protect your health and relieve symptoms.

Our specialists are national and international leaders in caring for heart rhythm disorders. We provide effective treatment for all types of arrhythmias, including the most challenging. We often care for people who have not found success with other treatments.

Leading Arrhythmia Care in St. Louis

We offer a leading team of electrophysiologists (cardiologists specializing in heart rhythm disorders). These experts focus on diagnosing and treating irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). At the Heart & Vascular Center, you will find:

  • Expert care: Our internationally recognized arrhythmia center treats all types of heart rhythm disorders. Because of our depth of knowledge, doctors from across the country refer patients to us. Our team places more than 700 pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) every year — just one example of our experience resulting in excellent outcomes. Learn more about cardiac electrophysiology.
  • Wide range of care: We have deep expertise in the full range of arrhythmia treatments, from medication to surgery. As an academic medical center, we are helping to develop the next generation of treatments. You may have access to new therapies through clinical trials.
  • Leaders in the field: Washington University doctors at Barnes-Jewish Hospital developed many advances in arrhythmia care. Our teams made advances that are now standard care. Some examples include ablation, cardiac defibrillation and the Cox-Maze procedure for atrial fibrillation. We’ve also helped develop leadless heart rhythm devices and noninvasive arrhythmia mapping. These two treatments enable you to recover faster after your procedure, with less-invasive follow-up care.
  • Patient-centered care: We take time to listen to you. By understanding your concerns and preferences, we can suggest the best treatment for you. Our goal is to give you a high quality of life, without worrisome symptoms. Learn more about cardiology at the Heart & Vascular Center.

Types of Heart Arrhythmias We Treat

Arrhythmia describes any heart rhythm disorder. These problems cause your heart to beat too fast, too slow or erratically. With an irregular heartbeat, your heart cannot pump effectively. We treat:

  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib): Atrial fibrillation is an erratic heartbeat. You may feel like your heart is skipping a beat. It can lead to dangerous heart failure. Advanced care for AFib can relieve symptoms and protect your health.
  • Tachycardia: Tachycardia is a fast heart rate that can threaten your life. It can raise your risk of having a stroke and may cause sudden cardiac arrest. Explore treatment options for tachycardia.
  • Bradycardia: Bradycardia is a slow heart rate. It can cause lightheadedness, fainting and dangerous falls. Learn how we treat bradycardia.
  • Ventricular fibrillation and cardiac arrest: Fibrillation may affect the heart’s lower chambers, known as the ventricles. The resulting condition, ventricular fibrillation, is the most frequent cause of sudden cardiac arrest, a medical emergency that can result in death. 

Arrhythmia Treatments at Barnes-Jewish Hospital

Our heart team tailors an individualized arrhythmia treatment plan for your needs. Our doctors consult with you and each other to select therapies that offer the best long-term result. 

Your team may recommend one or more arrhythmia treatments, such as:

  • Medication: Arrhythmia increases your risk of stroke. When your heart beats irregularly, blood may form clots that can travel to your brain. Medicines can relieve symptoms and reduce stroke risk.
  • Cardioversion: We use medications or a controlled electric shock to restore a regular heartbeat.
  • Catheter ablation: Using a thin tube called a catheter, we deliver heat energy (radiofrequency ablation) or extreme cold (cryoablation) to your heart. Tiny scars form to disrupt and prevent the irregular heartbeat. We perform more than 400 ablations a year, placing us among the region’s leaders.
  • Cox-Maze procedure: We are international experts in performing this surgical procedure to treat AFib. Our team creates a complex map of safe and effective scars to stop the abnormal heartbeat.
  • Pacemakers and ICDs: A surgeon implants a device under your skin to regulate your heart rate. Patients from across the country travel to us for our expertise in pacemaker implantation. Our team was one of the first in the U.S. to place implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) in patients at risk of cardiac arrest. Having a pacemaker or ICD can help you avoid progressive heart conditions, including heart failure.
  • Stroke-reducing procedures: Arrhythmia can cause blood clots. If they break free and block blood flow to your brain, you can have a stroke. We offer surgical procedures that can reduce your risk of stroke. 

Arrhythmia Research and Clinical Trials

Our team is developing the next generation of arrhythmia treatments. Our affiliation with Washington University School of Medicine gives us the capabilities and resources to lead the way in research. We offer numerous clinical trials, including research into using pacing devices to treat heart failure. Learn more about our innovation.

Our Heart Rhythm Team

At the Heart & Vascular Center, you’ll find a close partnership among the many specialists who provide your comprehensive and effective arrhythmia care. Find a doctor.

Your care team may include:

  • cardiologists, or doctors who specialize in heart conditions
  • cardiac surgeons who perform structural surgeries
  • electrophysiologists, or cardiologists who are experts in heart rhythm disorders
  • interventional cardiologists who perform minimally invasive, catheter-based procedures

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University arrhythmia specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, call 888-993-3291.