An arrhythmia is a problem with the pace or rhythm of a heartbeat. Every heart has an electrical system that keeps it beating properly so blood can flow throughout the body. When this electrical system is disrupted, slow or blocked signals can result in an abnormal heartbeat.
Some common heart arrhythmia causes include:
- Alcohol or caffeine
- Certain medications
- Congenital heart defects
- Heart attack or heart failure
- Overactive thyroid gland
There are two main types of heart arrhythmias: tachycardia, which is a very fast heartbeat, and bradycardia, a heartbeat that is irregular or too slow. While some arrhythmias may go unnoticed, others may cause symptoms. Some cardiac arrhythmia symptom types include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Fainting or light-headedness
- Heart palpitations
- Medication. Depending on the extent of your condition, your provider may recommend antiarrhythmic agents, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers or digitalis. These medications help keep the heart rate controlled and symptoms managed.
- Cardioversion. This procedure sends a quick electrical shock to the heart that restores normal rhythm.
- Catheter ablation. This procedure uses radiofrequency or cryoablation to destroy a small part of heart tissue that is causing abnormal heartbeats. Patients with atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia may benefit from this minimally invasive procedure.
- MAZE surgery. This procedure is used to treat patients with atrial fibrillation. During this procedure, incisions are made, or ablation is used within the upper chambers of the heart to stop abnormal electrical signals. Our heart rhythm team also provides a less-invasive option for patients who are not candidates for catheter ablation.
- Artificial pacemaker. Your provider may recommend an implanted pacemaker to stimulate your heart rate. A pacemaker is a small battery-operated device that is connected to your heart through wires. The pacemaker sends electrical impulses that cause your heart to beat.
- Cardiac defibrillator implant. This is a battery-operated device that is implanted to keep track of your heart rate. If the device detects a dangerous rhythm, it sends out an electric shock, causing the heart to beat normally again. It is used for patients who are at risk for ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.
The experts at UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute’s Adult Heart Rhythm Program see patients with normal to complex forms of arrhythmia and offer the most current treatment options in the region. Our patients have access to specialized medicines, catheter-based procedures and minimally invasive surgery. Our team also has the most leading-edge diagnostic tests that help diagnose arrhythmias that are difficult to detect.
Whether you are close to the Gill Heart & Vascular Institute or live far away, you do not need to travel for arrhythmia care. Our Adult Heart Rhythm Program is the only electrophysiology telemedicine outreach clinic in the region. Because of this, patients across the commonwealth of Kentucky have access to arrhythmia care and expert heart specialists otherwise unavailable.