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Heart Arrhythmia Center

Arrythmia Treatment

Arrythmia treatment
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:

  1. Bradycardia - if slow heartbeats (bradycardias) don't have a cause that can be corrected - such as low thyroid hormone levels or a drug side effect - doctors often treat them with a pacemaker.
  2. Tachycardia- treatments may include one or more of the following treatment options (see the list below).

Ablation Therapy
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.

Cardioversion
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.

Medications
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:

  • Have allergies to foods or dyes? (Antiarrhythmics may worsen allergic reactions)
  • Have asthma or other lung or breathing problems? (Beta-blockers may make conditions worse)
  • Have atrial fibrillation?
  • Have kidney disease?
  • Have liver disease?
  • Have lupus?
  • Have thyroid problems?
  • Know the risks of medication for 60+ ? (Older people may be prone to thyroid problems or notice numbness, tingling, or weakness in the hands and feet while taking antiarrhythmics)
  • Plan to become pregnant, are pregnant, or breast-feeding?
  • Plan to have an operation or dental surgery?

Lifestyle
Lifestyle changes may include:

  • Avoid stimulant s (including ingredients found in over-the-counter treatments for colds and nasal congestion)
  • Cut back on caffeine and alcohol
  • Eat heart-healthy foods
  • Find ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life
  • Increase your physical activity
  • Quit smoking

Surgery
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:

  • a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements you're taking.
  • any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to heart arrhythmia.
  • key personal information, including a family history of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or diabetes, and any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • questions to ask your doctor.

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.

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