CardioVascular Center

New England Cardiac Arrhythmia Center

Expert care and the latest therapies for cardiac arrhythmia

At the New England Cardiac Arrhythmia Center at Tufts Medical Center in downtown Boston, MA, you'll find the region’s most comprehensive program for treating the full range of heart rhythm disorders, including those needing medical therapy, ablation treatment, pacemakers and implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs).

Our highly specialized electrophysiologists cure many heart arrhythmias using the latest techniques, including radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation, an approach that can eliminate the need for long-term drug treatment in some patients.

Through clinical trials conducted by our cardiac specialists, many patients have access to the latest advances in antiarrhythmic drugs, ICDs, pacemakers and ablation techniques. In fact, our doctors helped write the national guidelines for the evaluation and management of atrial fibrillation and national guidelines for implantation of pacemakers and ICDs.

We also harness technology to make your life easier, eliminating the need in some cases for quarterly checkups at our Boston offices. For instance, if you have a permanent pacemaker, you can be monitored in the comfort of your home by our team at the New England Cardiac Arrhythmia Monitoring Center.

Making an appointment for personalized care is fast and easy

New patients typically are seen within a week by one of our specialists. We work closely with your primary care physician or cardiologist, ensuring they are active participants in charting your treatment plan. Everything we do is geared toward developing a personalized treatment approach to address your individual needs.

The Convergent procedure is an option for patients who have severe or persistent atrial fibrillation. The Convergent procedure combines a minimally invasive surgical approach performed by a cardiothoracic surgeon with a standard catheter ablation performed by a cardiac electrophysiologist.

How the procedure is performed

Through a small incision in the bottom of the chest wall, a surgeon places radiofrequency lesions on the back wall of the heart. The electrophysiologist then performs a standard ablation to electrically isolate the pulmonary veins and fill in the gaps on the back side of the heart.

Who is a candidate for the convergent procedure?

Patients with long-standing atrial fibrillation and structural heart changes do not respond to standard treatments as well. Candidates for this procedure might include those who previously had been unable to manage their atrial fibrillation with medication or had undergone prior failed ablations. In time, patients that undergo the Convergent procedure might be able to discontinue use of their daily heart rate and rhythm medications. In addition, patients are able to return to their normal activities and are able to enjoy a better quality of life.

An Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) ablation is a procedure used to treat an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia). It works by creating scar tissue inside your heart to help your heart beat stay in rhythm. In most people, ablation is performed around the four pulmonary veins located on the left side of the heart in the atrium (top chamber) that brings oxygenated blood back to the heart from the lungs.

How the procedure is performed

Patients are put under general anesthesia and are completely asleep for the procedure. Once asleep, several small incisions are made in the upper legs, and catheters (long, flexible wires) are carefully threaded up to the heart. Using the catheters, ablation is performed around the pulmonary veins to electrically isolate them from the rest of the heart. 

Ablation can be done in two different ways – cryo (freezing energy) or radiofrequency (heat energy). Both have been shown to be effective and safe. The decision for cryo or radiofrequency is made by your physician, and sometimes both are used. The catheters are then removed after the procedure.

What to expect

The procedure lasts 3-4 hours on average and you will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) to recover. Typically after a couple of hours, you will be transferred to our Cardiac Intermediate Care Unit and may be observed overnight. Family can visit you there. You will be on bedrest for several hours after the procedure but will be able to eat and drink. Most patients go home the next day. Most people feel fatigued and sore for several days but soon recover and are back to their usual activities within a couple of weeks.  

A SupraVentricular Tachycardia (SVT) ablation is a procedure used to treat fast heart rhythms that come from the top chamber of the heart and involve faulty electrical signals within the heart tissue. Usually, patients have symptoms of palpitations, racing heart or irregular heartbeats that have been recorded on an EKG or outpatient Holtor/loop monitor. 

How the procedure is performed

Patients typically need to be somewhat awake for the procedure — at least at the beginning. You will get some medication to relax you. Once you are comfortable, the physician will numb up the areas in the upper legs where several small incisions are made and catheters (long, flexible wires) are carefully threaded up to the heart. Your care team will then perform an Electrophysiology (EP) Study to determine where the faulty beats are coming from and what is causing them. Special catheters that can deliver radiofrequency (heat energy) or cryo (freezing energy) are used to destroy the abnormal tissue causing the arrhythmia. The catheters are then removed after the procedure.

What to expect

This procedure can last 3-4 hours or longer. You may be sent home the same day or may need to stay overnight, depending on how long the procedure took and what was done. Most people return to work and normal activities in a matter of days. Talk to your doctor about when to return to exercise and strenuous activities.

A pacemaker is a cardiac device implanted to help control your heartbeat. Pacemakers can be implanted permanently to correct bradycardia (slower than normal heartbeat) or heart block (a break in your heart’s electrical pathway). Some patients with atrial fibrillation who have both slow and fast heartbeats also benefit from pacemakers.

How the procedure is performed

Patients are typically put under moderate sedation and are comfortable for the procedure. Pacemakers have two main parts: wires with small electrodes that attach directly to your heart and the small pacemaker itself that generates the electrical impulse. Using an X-ray, your electrophysiologist will thread the wires through a vein in your shoulder and into to your heart, and then connect the wires to the pacemaker device. The electrodes monitor your heart beat and will pace your heart if need be. The pacemaker is typically about the size of two silver dollars and is implanted underneath the skin in the upper chest, usually on the left side. 

What to expect

This procedure usually takes about 2 hours, and you may spend the night in the hospital. During your recovery, you’ll need plenty of rest, but most people return to work and normal activities with some restrictions in a week. It is important to avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting for six weeks. After your cardiac device procedure, you will have several follow-up visits with your doctor and the Tufts Medical Center Device Clinic. 

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator is a device used to treat weak hearts (cardiomyopathy) and potentially life-threatening arrhythmias (fast rhythms) like ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation, which can lead to cardiac arrest. Some patients with weak hearts are at a higher risk of cardiac arrest and may benefit from these devices. These devices monitor the heart continuously and convert a potentially dangerous rhythm into one that will avoid cardiac arrest.

There are two types of ICD’s: Transvenous ICD’s and Subcutaneous ICD’s. 

Transvenous ICDs

Transvenous ICDs have two main parts: wires with electrodes in your heart and the defibrillator itself that generates the electrical impulse to pace and treat the heart. The electrodes are constantly monitoring your heart rhythm and the device should only deliver therapy if you need it. The ICD is implanted underneath the skin in the upper chest, usually on the left side. It can also function as a pacemaker and pace the heart in addition to delivering defibrillation therapy.

What to expect: This procedure usually takes about 2 hours under moderate sedation, and you will usually spend the night in the hospital to ensure that your device is working correctly. During your recovery, you’ll need plenty of rest, but most people return to work and normal activities with some restrictions in a week. It is important to avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting for six weeks. After your cardiac device procedure, you will have several follow-up visits with your doctor and the Tufts Medical Center Device Clinic. 

Subcutaneous ICDs 

Subcutaneous ICDs deliver therapy to protect patients with weak hearts from life threatening heart rhythms. These devices have wires that sit over the breastbone (sternum) and under the skin, and they are connected to the defibrillator in the left chest wall, below the armpit. Nothing is in the blood vessels or in the heart so the device cannot pace the heart. Because of this, it interprets heart beats differently than a pacemaker or transvenous ICD and is not appropriate for all patients. Your electrophysiologist will determine if you are a good candidate when discussing an ICD option in the outpatient clinic. 

What to expect: This procedure typically takes 3 hours under general anesthesia. You may spend the night in the hospital and patients typically go home the next morning. During your recovery, you’ll need plenty of rest, but most people return to work and normal activities with some restrictions in a week. It is important to avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting for six weeks. After your cardiac device procedure, you will have several follow-up visits with your Cardiologist and the Tufts Medical Center Device Clinic. 

You may have cardiac rhythm problems that happen infrequently and are not captured by an EKG or Holtor Monitor. In that case, we may recommend an Implantable Loop Recorder to record heart rhythms for up to 3 years. These small devices are about the size of a paperclip and are inserted under the skin in the left chest over the heart. They are not able to pace the heart or deliver any therapy but can monitor a patient for an extended period of time. They can show arrhythmia episodes that the patient does not notice, as well as those that the patient indicates are causing symptoms. Your cardiologist will review your records and discuss next steps with you regarding any procedures you may need based on your implantable loop recorder data. 

Maureen Abbott, MSN, BSN

Maureen Abbott, MSN, BSN

Title(s): Nurse Practitioner
Department(s): Cardiovascular Center, Electrophysiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-2273 (CARD)
Fax #:

Cardiology, Primary Care

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Ann Garlitski, MD

Ann Garlitski, MD

Accepting New Patients

Title(s): Co-Director, New England Cardiac Arrhythmia Center; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5939
Fax #: 617-636-9115

Cardiac arrhythmias

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Munther K. Homoud, MD

Munther K. Homoud, MD

Accepting New Patients

Title(s): Co-Director, New England Cardiac Arrhythmia Center; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5902
Fax #: 617-636-9115

Cardiac arrhythmias, pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillation, surgery for arrhythmias

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Douglas Laidlaw, MD

Douglas Laidlaw, MD

Accepting New Patients

Title(s): Cardiologist; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-9488
Fax #: 617-636-9115

Electrophysiology, pacemaker services

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Christopher Madias, MD

Christopher Madias, MD

Accepting New Patients

Title(s): Director, Cardiac Arrhythmia Center
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5902
Fax #: 617-636-9115

Cardiovascular disease, cardiac electrophysiology, WATCHMAN

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Michael J. Mazzini, MD

Michael J. Mazzini, MD

Title(s): Cardiologist; Assistant Professor of Medicine, TUSM
Department(s): CardioVascular Center
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5902
Fax #: 617-636-9115

Cardiac Electrophysiology

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Sushil Singh, MD

Sushil Singh, MD

Accepting New Patients

Title(s): Cardiologist; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5902
Fax #: 617-636-9115

Electrophysiology, arrhythmias

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Jonathan Weinstock, MD

Jonathan Weinstock, MD

Accepting New Patients

Title(s): Co-Director, New England Cardiac Arrhythmia Center; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5902
Fax #: 617-636-9115

Electrophysiology, arrhythmias

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617-636-2273 (CARD)