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Beating Your Heart Arrhythmias

Electrophysiologists Treat Heart Rhythm Problems

Electrophysiologists assess, diagnose, and manage arrhythmias. Touro’s Heart & Vascular Care in New Orleans includes a board-certified electrophysiologist to diagnose a wide variety of arrythmias and heart rhythm disorders. An electrophysiologist, sometimes called an “electrician of the heart”, can treat symptoms such as an unexplained irregular heartbeat, fainting, skipping a beat, or palpitations. Some of the most common heartbeat issues are the result of angina, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart defects, heart attacks, heart failure, heart valve disorders, myocarditis and pericarditis and can lead to stroke, heart failure, and dangerous blood clots.

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Arrhythmias & Irregular Heartbeat Conditions

  • Atrial fibrillation (Afib)
    the heart beats fast with an irregular rhythm causing the heart’s upper and lower chambers to not work together as they should.
  • Tachycardia
    the heart beats too quickly
  • Bradycardia
    the heart beats too slow
  • Ventricular tachycardia
    a very fast heartbeat from the lower chambers of the heart that can lead to ventricular fibrillation
  • Supraventricular tachycardia
    a sudden, extremely fast heart rate that occurs suddenly from the upper chambers of the heart, different from atrial fibrillation
  • Conduction disorders
    the heart beats abnormally
  • Premature contraction
    the heart beats early

Atrial Fibrillation or Afib?

Arrhythmias are heart beats that are too fast, too slow, or beat in an irregular way. Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is the most common type of arrhythmia where the heart beats fast with an irregular rhythm causing the heart’s upper and lower chambers to not work together as they should. When this happens, the lower chambers do not fill completely or pump enough blood to your lungs and body. Afib can develop with no obvious warning signs or you may experience dizziness, lightheadedness, fluttering, pounding in the chest or even chest pain. Blood may pool in your heart, which increases your risk of clots, strokes or other complications.

Electrophysiology Studies

Touro uses electrophysiology, non-surgical diagnostic tools, to diagnose abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmias with minimum downtime. Electrophysiology studies (ESP) are tests that help our electrophysiologist physician understand the nature of abnormal heart rhythm. An EP study determines why and where the abnormal heartbeat is coming from. Electrical signals usually travel through the heart in a regular pattern. When this doesn’t happen, cardiologists insert a catheter into a blood vessel that leads to your heart. This specialized electrode catheter designed for EP studies sends electrical signals to your heart and records its electrical activity.

Irregular Heart Rhythm Treatment

Treatment for heart arrhythmias depends on what’s causing the irregular heartbeat. Heart arrhythmia treatment is usually only needed if the irregular heartbeat is causing significant symptoms, or if the condition is putting you at risk of more-serious heart problems. Some of the most common treatments include:

Electrical Cardioversion

Electrical cardioversion is a procedure used to reset an abnormal heartbeat to a normal rhythm when the heart is beating very fast or irregular. With electrical cardioversion, a high-energy shock is sent to the heart to reset a normal rhythm. It’s different from chemical cardioversion, in which medicines are used to try to restore a normal rhythm. Cardioversion treats atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, atrial tachycardia and ventricular tachycardia.

Learn more about Electrical Cardioversion for Arrthymias

Catheter Ablation

Special cells in the heart create electrical signals that travel along pathways to the chambers of your heart. These signals make the heart’s upper and lower chambers beat in the proper sequence. Abnormal cells may create disorganized electrical signals that cause irregular or rapid heartbeats. Catheter ablation uses radiofrequency energy (like microwave heat) to destroy a small area of heart tissue that is causing rapid and irregular heartbeats. Destroying this tissue helps restore your heart’s regular rhythm.

Learn more about Catheter Ablation for Arrhythmias

Implantable Pacemakers

Cardiac resynchronization uses an implanted pacemaker in the chest to restore normal heartbeat timing. Pacemakers work only when needed. If your heartbeat is too slow, the pacemaker sends electrical signals to your heart to correct the beat. Some newer pacemakers also have sensors that detect body motion or breathing rate and signal the devices to increase heart rate during exercise, as needed.

Learn more about Implantable Pacemakers

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD} is placed under the skin to keep track of your heart rate. If an abnormal heart rhythm is detected the device will deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat if your heart is beating chaotically and much too fast. ICDs are useful in preventing sudden death in patients with known, sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation.

Learn more about Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators

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