BMN Blog

JUN 11
Treatment for Arrhythmias

Arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms that are often under recognized cardiac problems and can lead to dangerous consequences if ignored or not treated appropriately. Typical symptoms can mimic those of other cardiac conditions like a heart attack, and often include palpitations (abnormal sensation in the chest, feeling like your heart is racing or beating abnormal). Sometimes symptoms may be associated with chest discomfort, shortness of breath at rest or with exertion, dizziness, near passing out or passing out, and/or fatigue.


There are different kinds of arrhythmias. Some can potentially be cured, while others can be controlled with different measures such as medications, pacemakers, cardiac defibrillators and ablations. Medications, while frequently effective, are often limited by failure to control for the potential of adverse reactions or toxic effects.


A percutaneous catheter-based treatment approach using either radiofrequency or cryothermal energy is a safe alternative and potentially curative for certain arrhythmias such as supraventricular tachycardias, accessory pathways or Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome. Other chronic conditions such as atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardias can be controlled effectively by either medications or in combination with pacemakers, cardiac defibrillators and ablations.


Atrial fibrillation is the most prevalent heart rhythm abnormality which is associated with increased risk of congestive heart failure and strokes. Patients with atrial fibrillation are usually prescribed anticoagulants or blood thinners such as warfarin or coumadin, Eliquis, Xarelto, or Pradaxa for stroke prevention. However a significant portion of patients that develop atrial fibrillation are elderly who are at risk of falls or bleeding conditions which prohibit them from safely taking anticoagulants. A novel percutaneous trans catheter treatment option called a Watchman device is now FDA approved. This seals the left atrial appendage which then prevents most clots forming in the heart and thus can prevent strokes equally as effective as anticoagulants without the long term risk of bleeding


Experts at HeartSouth are well experienced in appropriately recognizing these and guiding you as needed. You may need to be referred to an electrophysiologist (one who specializes in managing arrhythmias).  We provide comprehensive arrhythmia care and are one of the few centers Alabama that performs cardiac ablations without any or with minimal radiation exposure at Cath labs equipped with latest world-class equipment at Shelby Baptist Medical center.

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