Heart Rhythm Disorders (Arrhythmias)
EP Specialists Treat Heart Rhythm Disorders
Each time the heart beats, it pushes blood and nutrients to the body. Heartbeats are controlled by electrical impulses that travel through the heart and normally occur at regular intervals. When something goes wrong with the heart’s electrical system, the heart may beat too quickly, too slowly or in an irregular pattern. This is a rhythm disorder, or arrhythmia.
Millions of Americans have arrhythmias, some can be serious or even life threatening. If the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the body, the result can be damage to the brain, heart or other organs.
The electrophysiology, or EP, experts at Lutheran Hospital diagnose and treat heart rhythm disorders. Following a comprehensive physical exam, review of medical and family histories and diagnostic tests that may include an EP study, our team is able to evaluate, treat and manage the issues that affect the electrical activities of the heart, including:
- Atrial Fibrillation: Upper heart chambers contract irregularly and not completely
- Bradycardia: Slow heart rate
- Conduction Disorders: Heart does not beat normally
- Premature contraction: Early heart beat
- Tachycardia: Very fast heart rate
- Ventricular Fibrillation: Disorganized contraction of the lower chambers; blood not pushed out to the rest of the body
Atrial Fibrillation Increases Risk of Stroke
If you or a loved one have an irregular heart rhythm or have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, it is important to know that this condition increases the chance of a stroke. Stroke is treatable if symptoms are quickly identified. Understanding stroke symptoms and getting medical attention are critical for life-saving treatment.
If you suspect someone is experiencing a stroke, act F-A-S-T.
FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
ARM: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1.
Treatment Options for Heart Rhythm Disorders
When an arrhythmia causes serious symptoms, such as heart palpitations, dizziness, anxiety, weakness, chest pain or fainting, treatment is strongly recommended. Treatments may include:
- Medications: Rate or rhythm control medications can reduce symptoms and blood thinners may decrease the risk of stroke. These medications will treat, but not cure, the problem.
- Cardioversion: During this non-invasive procedure, a low-level electrical shock resets the heart to its regular rhythm. Cardioversion is performed in the EP lab and medications are used to make you more comfortable.
- Ablation therapy: This procedure involves threading one or more catheters through the blood vessels to the areas of the inner heart suspected of causing the arrhythmia. Computer technology creates a 3D image of the heart and identifies the path of the arrhythmia. Electrodes at the catheter tips are then used to alter (ablate) small spots of heart tissue and create an electrical block along the pathway creating the arrhythmia. This therapy can correct the arrhythmia.
- Implantable devices: Devices that may be implanted include:
- A LINQ cardiac recorder - to diagnose heart rhythm disorders
- A pacemaker, leadless pacemaker or cardioverter–defibrillator (ICD) - to treat heart arrhythmias
- A cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device - to manage heart failure symptoms
- Advanced Procedures: For more advanced or complex cases, the following treatments are available:
- Atrial fibrillation ablation: A special catheter creates an electrical block in the left atrium of the heart to decrease or eliminate AFib.
- Cryoablation: Specialized catheters freeze cardiac tissue for AFib and supraventricular tachycardias (SVTs)
- Convergent procedure: Hybrid procedure involving cardiovascular surgeon and EP physician; combines ablation on the inside and outside of the heart to treat long-standing AFib.
- Laser Lead Extraction: Laser technology used to remove implanted pacemaker or ICD leads from the heart.
- WATCHMAN™ Procedure: Left atrial appendage closure device reduces risk of stroke in patients unable to take blood thinners.
- Subcutaneous ICD System Implant: A defibrillator implanted under the skin, rather than through the vessels,treats rapid, life threatening, irregular heartbeats from the lower chambers of the heart.
For additional information about heart rhythm management solutions for long-term health, call (260) 435-2600(260) 435-2600.