Arrhythmia - Pacemaker and ablation
An arrhythmia can be silent and not cause any symptoms. A doctor can detect an irregular heartbeat during a physical exam by taking your pulse or through an electrocardiogram (ECG).
When symptoms of an arrhythmia occur, they may include:
Arrhythmias may be caused by many different factors, including:
More about Treatment
An irregular heartbeat is an arrhythmia (also called dysrhythmia). Heart rates can also be irregular. A normal heart rate is 50 to 100 beats per minute. Arrhythmias and abnormal heart rates don't necessarily occur together. Arrhythmias can occur with a normal heart rate, or with heart rates that are slow (called bradyarrhythmias -- less than 50 beats per minute). Arrhythmias can also occur with rapid heart rates (called tachyarrhythmias -- faster than 100 beats per minute).
The types of arrhythmias include:
- Premature atrial contractions.
- Premature ventricular contractions(PVCs).
- Atrial fibrillation.
- Atrial flutter.
- Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT).
- Accessory pathway tachycardias.
- AV nodal reentrant tachycardia.
- Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach).
- Long QT syndrome
- Sinus node dysfunction.
- Heart block.
If you have an arrhythmia, treatment may or may not be necessary. Usually, it's required only if the arrhythmia is causing significant symptoms or if it's putting you at risk of a more serious arrhythmia or arrhythmia complication.
Treating slow heartbeats
If slow heartbeats (bradycardias) don't have a cause that can be corrected, doctors often treat them with a pacemaker because there aren't any medications that can reliably speed up the heart.
A pacemaker is a small device that's usually implanted near your collarbone. One or more electrode-tipped wires run from the pacemaker through your blood vessels to your inner heart. If your heart rate is too slow or if it stops, the pacemaker sends out electrical impulses that stimulate your heart to beat at a steady rate.
Treating fast heartbeats
Cardiac catheter ablation
For fast heartbeats (tachycardias), treatments may include one or more of the following:
- Vagal maneuvers. You may be able to stop an arrhythmia that begins above the lower half of your heart (supraventricular tachycardia) by using particular maneuvers that include holding your breath and straining, dunking your face in ice water, or coughing.
- Medications. For many types of tachycardia, you may be prescribed medication to control your heart rate or restore a normal heart rhythm. It's very important to take any anti-arrhythmic medication exactly as directed by your doctor in order to minimize complications.
- Cardioversion. If you have a certain type of arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation, your doctor may use cardioversion, which can be conducted as a procedure or by using medications.
- Catheter ablation. In this procedure, your doctor threads one or more catheters through your blood vessels to your heart. Electrodes at the catheter tips can use heat, extreme cold or radiofrequency energy to damage (ablate) a small spot of heart tissue and create an electrical block along the pathway that's causing your arrhythmia.
- Implantable devices like pacemakers and ICD's