Arrhythmia means an irregularity of the heartbeat. There are many different kinds with the severity ranging from nothing to worry about to potentially fatal. The treatment depends on how bad the arrhythmia is and what the risk is to your health. Normal hearts always have some degree of arrhythmia. After seeing the doctor and having very simple testing done, this may be the ultimate diagnosis. In this case, the best treatment is "do nothing." Most of the time, the medications that would be used will have side effects that are worse that your problem. Some arrhythmias are very bothersome but not dangerous. Mostly, these are treated with simple medications. It is always important to have the side effects be less than the problem itself! Some arrhythmias are treated with more complex medications and these usually require a cardiac electrophysiologist to make the right decision and to monitor the medications carefully. There are types of arrhythmias that can be cured through an invasive cardiac procedure called an electrophysiology study (EPS). This sounds scary, but it really isn't. It is done by inserting skinny little wires through big main blood vessels (usually in your groin) and then finding the spots in the heart that are causing the problem and putting little tiny burns to destroy these spots. This doesn't hurt and, depending on the arrhythmia, can be very, very effective. Finally, there is a group of arrhythmias that require implantation of either a pacemaker or an implanted defibrillator. This is always done with a cardiac electrophysiologist and is a decision that is made very thoughtfully. If your arrhythmia requires this treatment, it is the right thing to do and is usually quite effective.
A Answers (4)
American Heart Association answered
Before treatment, it’s important for the doctor to know where an arrhythmia starts in the heart and whether it’s abnormal. An electrocardiogram (graphic record of electrical impulses made by the heart) is often used to diagnose arrhythmias. Using a Holter monitor, exercise stress tests, tilt table test, and electrophysiologic studies (“mapping” the electrical system of your heart) are other ways to find where arrhythmias start. Treatment may include:
- Lifestyle changes
• Medicine to prevent and control arrhythmias and to treat related conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and heart failure.
- Anticoagulants to reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke
- A pacemaker that uses batteries to help your heart beat more regularly
- Cardiac defibrillation and implanted cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs)
- Cardiac ablation- Surgery
Johns Hopkins Medicine answered
Following a diagnostic exam and several tests, the doctor will work with you on a treatment plan to effectively address the cardiac arrhythmia. This plan may include one or more of the following options:
- Medications. You may be prescribed medication to help manage any abnormalities. Antiarrhythmic drugs (such as a beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers) convert the arrhythmia to a normal rhythm. Anticoagulants (also called blood thinners) may be prescribed to prevent the formation of blood clots.
- Cardioversion. An electric shock (cardioversion) may be administered under non-emergency conditions to correct atrial arrhythmias. In this case, you receive a short-acting anesthesia, and then an electrical shock is delivered to your chest wall that synchronizes the heart and allows the normal rhythm to restart.
- Catheter ablation.If the doctor can pinpoint specific areas of the heart causing the abnormal rhythm, an outpatient procedure called catheter ablation can destroy these areas using radio wave energy. This procedure involves a doctor using several catheters to pinpoint the damaged area, and then apply extreme heat (or cold) to destroy the problem-causing tissue.
- Pacemaker. If your heartbeat is dangerously slow, you may benefit by having a pacemaker implanted in your chest. This is a small device that supplies electrical triggers to the heart to help it along when it beats too slowly. Similarly, a defibrillator is a small implanted device that delivers a small electrical shock to the heart if a too-rapid rhythm occurs.
Treatment is also likely to include possible prevention-based lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk. Your family may also want to learn to recognize your symptoms so that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (or CPR) can be applied in an emergency situation.
Cardiac arrhythmias can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on three factors - how they make you feel, how serious they are, and the risk related to the treatment. There are many arrhythmias and each has a variety of treatment options that considers the three factors listed above.
In general, options include medicines, implantable devices like pacemakers and defibrillators, and catheter-based heart procedures (called electrophysiology studies) that can be used to diagnose and identify the location in the heart from where the arrhythmia arises - heat can be delivered to the specific location(s) through one of our catheters until the target sites no longer function, suppressing or curing the arrhythmia. This does not injure the heart or impair its overall function at all.
Each specific treatment option has its own risk and benefits and should be discussed with a heart doctor. Cardiac electrophysiologists are heart doctors that specialize in the treatment of arrhythmias.