Minimally invasive treatments for heart rhythm disorders

Your heart is a muscle that runs on electricity. When there's a disruption in that electrical system, you need an expert team to diagnose and treat the issue. That's when you turn to Greater Cincinnati's Heart Hospital SM.

The Christ Hospital Heart and Vascular Center provides a wide array of minimally invasive treatment options for heart rhythm disorders that no longer respond well to medications or lifestyle changes.

Our physicians and staff are at the forefront of treating heart rhythm disorders caused by an arrythmia, heart failure, a heart attack, an inherited heart condition or another health issue. Your care team will include an electrophysiologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating electrical activity in your heart.

Not only does our cardiovascular care team offer leading edge procedures, therapies, and medical devices to help your heart beat more efficiently – they've been part of the research that made many of these breakthrough treatments available to patients in Greater Cincinnati and around the world.

Your treatment may include just one therapy or a combination of therapies that work together to get your heart pumping more regularly and efficiently.

To learn more about heart rhythm disorder treatments at The Christ Hospital, call 513-206-1180.

Cardiac Catheter Ablation

Cardiac catheter ablation is a procedure to prevent abnormal electrical signals from traveling through your heart. It is often used to treat symptoms associated with atrial fibrillation (AFib), supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and ventricular tachycardia (VT).

Very thin electrodes called catheters are guided to your heart through the blood vessels in your upper thigh. These electrodes are used to treat the area in your heart causing the electrical disturbance without the need for a chest incision.

  • Radiofrequency (RF) ablation uses heat to treat the source of abnormal electrical signals inside the heart.  

  • Cryoablation uses extremely cold temperatures to treat the source of abnormal electrical signals inside the heart.

  • Hybrid ablation combines catheter ablation and minimally invasive surgical techniques for more complex cases. An electrophysiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon work collaboratively to treat the source of abnormal electrical signals both inside and outside the heart.

Cardiac catheter ablation has progressed significantly over the past five years. Our team at The Christ Hospital is proud to offer Greater Cincinnati with access to the latest tools and techniques this field has to offer. 

VIDEO: Learn more about catheter ablation at The Christ Hospital


Your heart has two primary electrical regulators that trigger the heart to squeeze and pump blood throughout the body. The sinus node is the body's natural pacemaker that tells the heart's upper chambers to beat. The atrioventricular (AV) node holds that signal for a fraction of a second, then signals the lower chambers to squeeze.

If your heart is beating too slowly because these natural electrical regulators are not working properly, a pacemaker may help to keep your heart in a more balanced rhythm.

A pacemaker is a battery-powered device that is implanted under the skin of the chest and connected to the heart by wires called leads. When needed, the pacemaker regulates your heartbeat by sending electrical pulses to the heart through the leads.

Pacemakers have been widely used for years, but there have been many exciting advances in technology that are now available at The Christ Hospital:

  • Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy, also known as biventricular pacing, is a treatment for heart failure that allows your heart to squeeze and contract in a more organized fashion.

  • Conduction System Pacing is a way to pace the heart that aligns more closely with its natural rhythm and how the heart's electrical system works.

  • Transvenous Lead Extraction. Leads are designed to stay in the body permanently, but occasionally they need to be removed for an upgrade, an infection, or a break in the wire. Removal is a complex procedure that requires a specialized approach to reach the lead through the veins.

  • Leadless Pacemakers are a newer option for patients who need specific types of pacing. They sit inside the heart with no wire connections. Leadless pacemakers are so small, they can be delivered to the heart through the veins – eliminating the need for a chest incision or a visible pacemaker beneath the skin. The lack of wires can also lower the risk of certain infections and lead breaks.

Most of today's pacemakers offer remote monitoring, allowing your care team to detect abnormal heart rhythms sooner and provide better management of your heart condition.

Many pacemakers are also safe for use in an MRI, giving more options to patients who might need diagnostic imaging in the future. The Christ Hospital was first in the United States to implant an MRI-compatible pacemaker as part of the clinical research that led to FDA approval, providing patients in Greater Cincinnati with access to these revolutionary devices before they were widely available. 

VIDEO: Learn more about how pacemakers work

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators

Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) send an electrical signal to the heart when disorganized energy causes a dangerously high heart rate that can lead to cardiac arrest. These sophisticated, battery-powered devices are implanted much like a pacemaker.

Today's ICDs have the same functions as a pacemaker to regulate a slow heartbeat, with the added capability of sending high-energy electrical pulses to reset the heart and restore a more normal rhythm.

They can also monitor your heart and transmit data wirelessly to your care team, including details of an abnormal heart rhythm that activates your ICD, device health, and battery life.

VIDEO: Learn more about how implanted defibrillators work

Implantable Loop Recorders

Implantable loop recorders (ILRs), also called insertable cardiac monitors, monitor the heart over long periods of time for abnormal rhythms and palpitations that are intermittent or infrequent. They can also be useful in diagnosing issues related to syncope – unexplained, frequent bouts of fainting or passing out.

ILRs are placed under the skin of the chest where they pick up the heart's electrical signals. They transmit data back to your cardiologist wirelessly for study.

Implanting an ILR only takes a few minutes during a minor, outpatient procedure. The devices are about the size of four matchsticks and are not visible beneath the skin after they are implanted.


People with atrial fibrillation (AFib) have a five times greater stroke risk than those who do not have the condition. Many people with AFib struggle to stay on blood-thinning medications due to the required monitoring, lifestyle limitations and bleeding risks.

The Christ Hospital was the first in Greater Cincinnati to introduce a minimally invasive treatment called The Watchman to reduce the risk of AFib-related stroke without using anticoagulation drugs, or blood thinners.

The next-generation Watchman FLX is about the size of a coin. The device is inserted through a catheter into the specific area of the heart most often responsible for clots that cause stroke.

The one-time procedure effectively "seals off" this area and prevents stroke-causing blood clots from entering the bloodstream. The Watchman procedure is covered by Medicare and many other health insurance providers.

VIDEO:  See how the Watchman can reduce the risk of stroke

Want a second opinion on your heart rhythm diagnosis?

If you have been diagnosed with a heart rhythm disorder, The Christ Hospital Heart & Vascular Center offers second opinion consultations to review your symptoms and treatment options. Second opinion appointments are covered by most insurance plans.

Click here to learn more about getting a second opinion with the world-class care team at The Christ Hospital or call our nurse navigator at 513-206-1270.