Arrhythmias & Electrophysiology
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A heart arrhythmia, also referred to as an irregular heartbeat, is a fairly common condition that occurs when the electrical signals controlling your heartbeat are blocked or delayed. This causes your heart to beat too slow (bradycardia), beat too fast (tachycardia) or beat irregularly.
Common types of arrhythmia include:
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
- Heart blocks
- Premature atrial contractions (PAC)
- Premature ventricular contractions (PVC)
- Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
- Ventricular fibrillation
- Ventricular tachycardia
- Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome
Although occasionally harmless, an arrhythmia can interfere with your heart's ability to pump enough blood to the rest of your body.
Our Approach to Treating Arrhythmia
Our cardiologists and electrophysiologists work as a team to diagnose your arrhythmia, determine its severity and design a treatment plan that takes your specific condition and unique lifestyle needs into account.
If your condition is severe, our specialists have expertise in the most advanced implantable devices, catheter-based procedures and minimally invasive and open surgical techniques needed to treat your condition.
In addition to treating arrhythmia, experts in our Cardiovascular Prevention and Wellness Program are also committed to preventing heart disease. By helping you understand the factors that may increase your risk and the healthy lifestyle behaviors that can help keep you healthy, our heart disease prevention specialists can help you keep arrhythmia from developing in the first place.
What Increases a Person’s Risk of Developing Arrhythmia?
Your chances of developing an arrhythmia can be increased by the following:
• Heavy alcohol use
• Certain drugs, such as amphetamines or cocaine
• Some prescriptions or over-the-counter medications
• Too much caffeine
• A prior heart attack
• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• Certain birth defects
You can reduce your risk of developing arrhythmia by following a heart-healthy lifestyle.
What Are the Symptoms of Arrhythmia?
In many cases, an arrhythmia doesn’t cause any signs or symptoms. In fact, your doctor may discover an arrhythmia during a routine exam even if you haven’t noticed symptoms.
If symptoms are noticeable, they often include one or more of the following:
• Rapid heartbeat or pounding
• Slow heartbeat
• A premature heartbeat that may feel like your heart skipped a beat
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Syncope (passing out)
If an arrhythmia is suspected, your doctor will conduct a physical exam and assess your heart’s rhythm using an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG).
How Is Arrhythmia Treated?
If your arrhythmia is serious, your doctor may recommend a treatment plan that includes:
• Making lifestyle changes, such as controlling or eliminating caffeine or alcohol
• Monitoring and tracking your pulse rate
• Taking medications, including various anti-arrhythmic drugs, which can help control your heart rate
• An implantable device, such as a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
• Minimally invasive ablation procedures