An arrhythmia is a disorder of the heart’s rhythm, beating too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregularly. The heart’s electrical system regulates the heart muscles pumping action of contraction and relaxation. Arrhythmias are caused when the electrical system of the heart isn't working properly.

The most common types of arrhythmia are atrial fibrillation also known as AFIB, where the heart rhythm is too fast, too slow or skips a beat and atrial flutter. Left untreated, AFIB can lead to serious illness and is the leading cause of stroke.

An arrhythmia may be present all of the time or it may come and go. You may or may not feel symptoms when the arrhythmia is present or you may only notice symptoms when you are more active. Symptoms can be very mild, or they may be severe or even life-threatening. Common symptoms that may occur when the arrhythmia is present include:

  • Chest pain
  • Paleness
  • Sweating
  • Fainting, light-headedness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath

If you experience these symptoms, it’s important that you talk to a primary care physician. If you do not have one, find a primary care doctor now. 

Treatment Options

The cardiac electrophysiologists at Morton Plant Hospital offer the latest advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmia.

Medications called anti-arrhythmic drugs may keep your heart rate from becoming too fast or too slow and prevent an arrhythmia from happening again. When medication is not enough or when an arrhythmia is serious, you may need an advanced treatment option to restore a normal rhythm. 

This may include:

  • Cardiac ablation, radiofrequency or cryoablation, used to destroy areas in your heart that may be causing your heart rhythm problems
  • An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a device implanted near your heart to help treat arrhythmias, especially severe ones that can lead to sudden cardiac death
  • Pacemaker, (including conventional single chamber device and the Medtronic Micra Transcatheter Pacing System), a device that senses when your heart is beating irregularly, too slowly, or too fast. It sends a signal to your heart that makes your heart beat at the correct pace.
  • Hybrid ablation (also referred to as the convergent procedure), is a minimally invasive hybrid procedure that combines both catheterization and electrophysiology

Life Following an Arrhythmia

If an arrhythmia requires an ablation or other advanced treatment procedure, most patients are able to resume normal activities within days of the procedure. Typically, a successful ablation procedure means the physician is unable to start an arrhythmia that they had been able to provoke prior to the ablation. When the patient goes home, they no longer have an arrhythmia. 

Why Choose Morton Plant Hospital

At Morton Plant Hospital, our cardiac electrophysiologists believe in a patient-centered approach. This begins by making sure each patient fully understands his or her medical condition and the treatment options available. Deciding on the best approach is a team decision involving the patient, cardiac electrophysiologist and other physicians involved in the patient’s care including a primary care doctor or other specialists. 

For more information or a physician referral, call (855) 233-0888 or find a cardiac electrophysiologist near you.

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