If you are diagnosed with an arrhythmia, treatment may or may not be necessary. Usually treatment is 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. Treatment for arrhythmia will also depend upon the type of arrhythmia that you are experiencing. Common treatments for the two main types of arrhythmia incude:
In this procedure, one or more catheters are threaded through the blood vessels to the inner heart and positioned on areas of the heart that doctors believe are the sources of arrhythmia.
If you have a tachycardia that starts in the top half of your heart (atria), including atrial fibrillation, your doctor may use cardioversion, which is an electrical shock used to reset your heart to its regular rhythm.
Many types of tachycardia respond well to anti-arrhythmic medications. Though they don't cure the problem, they can reduce episodes of tachycardia or slow down the heart when an episode occurs. Some medications can slow down your heart so much that you may need a pacemaker. It's very important to take any anti-arrhythmic medication exactly as directed by your doctor, in order to avoid complications. Things to consider as you and your doctor decide on an antiarrhythmics versus ananti-arrhythmic medication follow. Do you:
Lifestyle changes may include:
In some cases, surgery may be recommended for heart arrhythmias. Common surgical procedures for the correction of arrhythmias are:
Coronary bypass surgery - Recommended for people with severe coronary artery disease in addition to frequent ventricular tachycardia to improve the blood supply to the heart and reduce the frequency of ventricular tachycardia.
Implantable Devices - Treatment for heart arrhythmias also may involve use of an implantable device. Some of the implantable devices that are available to correct arrhythmias are:
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) - Recommended for people at high risk of developing a dangerously fast or quivering heartbeat in the lower half of the heart (ventricular tachycardia or ventricle fibrillation). Implantable defibrillator units designed to treat quivering in the upper half of your heart (atrial fibrillation) also are available.
- Pacemaker - A pacemaker helps regulate slow heartbeats (bradycardia). A small battery-driven device is placed under the skin near the collarbone in a minor surgical procedure. An insulated wire extends from the device to the right side of the heart, where it's permanently anchored.
Ventricular aneurysm surgery - In some cases, a bulge in a blood vessel leading to the heart called an aneurysm is the cause of an arrhythmia . This surgery involves removing the aneurysm to eliminate arrythmia.
What you can do ...
Preparation is the key when getting prepared to seek medical assistance. When making appointments, be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet. You may need to do this if your doctor orders any blood tests. Write down:
Finally, take a family member or friend along, if possible as sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.