Atrial Fibrillation Specialist

Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute

Cardiologist & Interventional Cardiologist located in The Woodlands, TX

Atrial fibrillation is a type of heart arrhythmia that doubles your risk of a deadly heart attack and makes you five times more likely to suffer a stroke. At Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute, Laura Fernandes, MD, FACC, specializes in diagnosing the cause of your atrial fibrillation and providing individualized treatment to restore your heart’s rhythm and promote your long-term health. If your heart skips a beat, flutters, or beats too fast, call the office in The Woodlands, Texas, or schedule an appointment online today.

Atrial Fibrillation Q & A

What is atrial fibrillation?

Your heart has its own electrical system that triggers regular muscle contractions. The contractions send blood in a steady and precise pattern through the four chambers of your heart.

Atrial fibrillation occurs when the electrical system malfunctions and causes irregular muscle contractions in the two upper chambers.

The quivering muscles allow blood to pool in the upper chambers, potentially causing a blood clot. These blood clots can cause a stroke if they leave the heart and reach your brain.

What causes atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation occurs when you suffer heart damage due to:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart valve disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • A viral infection
  • Myocarditis
  • Pericarditis

Your risk for atrial fibrillation also increases after a heart attack, and if you have health problems such as obesity, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, and chronic lung disease.

What symptoms develop due to atrial fibrillation?

The symptoms of atrial fibrillation include:

  • Heart palpitations (racing, pounding, fluttering, skipping a beat)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Faintness
  • Fatigue

You may have constant symptoms or find that they come and go.

How do cardiologists treat atrial fibrillation?

After reviewing your medical history and finishing a thorough exam, Dr. Fernandes performs the appropriate diagnostic tests. You may need an electrocardiogram, Holter monitor, echocardiogram, stress tests, or blood tests.

Dr. Fernandes treats the whole person, recommending lifestyle changes that improve the health of your heart. Depending on the severity of your atrial fibrillation, your treatment may also include:

Treatment for underlying conditions

If an underlying condition such as hyperthyroidism caused your atrial fibrillation, then treating that problem often improves your heart rhythm.


Dr. Fernandes may prescribe one of many different medicines, depending on your needs. For example, you may need medication to prevent blood clots, slow your heart rate, or maintain a regular rhythm.

Interventional procedures

Dr. Fernandes specializes in interventional cardiology, including non-surgical and minimally invasive procedures to restore your heart rhythm. She may recommend electrical cardioversion, a procedure that uses a mild electrical impulse to reset your heartbeat.

An interventional procedure called cardiac ablation can stop the abnormal electrical signals. During this procedure, Dr. Fernandes guides a thin, flexible catheter through your blood vessels to your heart.

She then sends radiofrequency or laser energy through the catheter to scar the dysfunctional electrical areas. Scarring the tissue prevents irregular electrical signals, restoring a normal heart rhythm.

If you need expert care for atrial fibrillation, call Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute, or book an appointment online today.