About the therapy Cardiac Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation

How cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation works

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation, also known as AF, is an irregular heart rhythm that affects the upper chambers (atria) of the heart. In AF, the atria quiver instead of beating normally. AF can also lead to rapid heart rhythm, where the heart can beat as much as 300 times a minute or more in the atria and up to 150 times a minute or more in the lower chambers (ventricles).

There are three main types of AF:

  • Paroxysmal AF refers to AF that occurs sometimes and then stops, with the heart returning to its normal rhythm.
  • Persistent AF occurs when the AF does not stop by itself; medications and/or cardioversion may be used to return the heart to its normal rhythm.
  • Permanent AF occurs when the AF cannot be fixed.

Visit Medtronic Academy to learn more about AF.

Why treat AF?

  • AF is the most common arrhythmia with global prevalence > 33 million.1
  • AF ablation is a relatively underpenetrated therapy.
  • According to 2006 estimates the economic cost to care for AFib patients in the United States was approximately $26 billion per year. The total cost of care for a patient who has AF is approximately $8,700 higher per year as compared to people who do not have AF.2

Catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation

Catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) is a technique employed to control heart rhythms that are caused by abnormal electrical signals traveling from the pulmonary veins to the atria. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that can be used when medication fails to control AF. During the procedure, catheters are used to terminate (ablate) these abnormal electrical signals and stop them from spreading and continuing to cause AF.

The catheters have electrodes that can sense intracardiac electrical signals when connected to the electrophysiology lab system. The resulting electrograms are used to determine the optimal placement of the ablation catheter. The ablation catheter delivers energy to create a discrete lesion of myocardial scar tissue which terminates the abnormal electrical signals.

Medtronic offers ablation catheters that use cryothermal energy to create lesions via the rapid removal of heat from cardiac cells.



Rahman F, Kwan GF, Benjamin EJ. Global epidemiology of atrial fibrillation. Nat Rev Cardiol. November 2014; 11(11):639-654.


Kim MH, Johnston SS, Chu BC, Dalal MR, Schulman KL. Estimation of total incremental health care costs in patients with atrial fibrillation in the United States. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. May 2011;4(3):313-320.


Savelieva I, et al. Silent Atrial Fibrillation—Another Pandora's Box. Pace. 2000; 23:145-148.


Prystowsky E, et al. Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: A Statement for Healthcare Professionals From the Subcommittee on Electrocardiography and Electrophysiology, American Heart Association. Circulation. 1996; 93(6):1262-1277.


Medtronic internal estimates taking into account of clinical and economic exclusion.