Arrhythmias and Atrial Fibrillation
Perhaps you feel that your heart is “racing” or you have unexplained chest pain or dizziness. You may have an arrhythmia, which is an abnormal heart rhythm.
What is an arrhythmia?
The term arrhythmia describes any change from the normal heart beat rhythm. Types of arrhythmias include tachycardia, a heartbeat that’s too fast; bradycardia, a heartbeat that’s too slow; and atrial fibrillation or AFib, an irregular heartbeat.
At CHI Franciscan, we provide the specialized care to manage all types of arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation (AFib). Our cardiologists and electrophysiologists (cardiologists specializing in heart rhythm disorders) will work with you to provide the individualized care you need to get back on your feet. Electrophysiologists are your heart’s “electrician.” They care for people with the most serious abnormal heart rhythms.
What is AFib?
AFib is a rapid heart rhythm caused by uncoordinated and weak contractions of your heart’s upper chambers, preventing your heart from pumping blood affectively. It can cause blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other serious heart conditions. It’s important that you seek treatment for AFib to prevent serious health conditions.
Treatments for arrhythmia and AFib
Some people can live with untreated arrhythmias for many years. If we determine that your arrhythmia puts you at risk for more serious complications, we’ll work with you to create a treatment plan to help restore your heart’s normal heart rhythm and treat underlying conditions that may be causing the condition. Treatment for arrhythmias can include:
Blood thinning medications
Your doctor may prescribe antiplatelet or anticoagulant medication to treat related heart conditions or reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke. In some cases, the side effects of blood thinners may be deemed unsuitable. In this case, your physician may recommend left-atrial appendage (LAA) closure procedure.
Heart rhythm controlling medications
Abnormal heart rhythms can be treated with medications like sodium channel blockers which reduce the heart's ability to conduct electricity or potassium channel blockers which slow down the electrical signals that cause AFib.
In this procedure, a thin tube called a catheter is inserted into a vein and guided to your heart muscle. Through the catheter, the ablation process destroys a small area of heart tissue that’s causing the abnormal heartbeat.
Left atrial appendage (LAA) closure device
If you have nonvalvular AFib, and are not a suitable candidate for warfarin, a common blood thinner, your cardiologist may recommend a left atrial appendage (LAA) closure device. It blocks off an area of your heart (left atrial appendage) where blood clots are much more likely to form, effectively preventing clots from entering your bloodstream. The device is implanted via a catheter (thin tube), which is threaded into a blood vessel in your upper leg and guided to your heart.
Used to treat AFib, a doctor will create a pattern of scar tissue in the atria to block faulty electrical signals that can cause your arrhythmia. Scar tissue can be made using lasers, heat (radiofrequency energy), cold (cryoablation) or by making incisions with a scalpel.
Percutaneous left ventricular assist device (LVAD)
A mechanical pump that helps your heart pump more effectively. We monitor and care for patients who have these devices.
A small device is implanted in your chest to help regulate your heart rhythm by sending electrical signals when it beats too fast, too slow or irregularly.
Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
Like a pacemaker, ICDs are implanted under the skin and use electric shocks to regulate your heart. The device monitors your heart rate, and when it senses dangerous rhythms, it sends a shock to correct the heart’s rhythm.
Coronary bypass surgery
If your arrhythmia is related to coronary artery disease (CAD), your cardiologist may recommend a coronary bypass surgery. When blood vessels become severely narrowed or clogged with plaque, less blood flows to the heart muscle. If your heart muscle isn’t receiving enough blood, it can’t pump effectively, and can cause an irregular heartbeat, an increased risk of heart attack or heart failure. Coronary bypass surgery can help restore blood flow to the heart and a healthy heart rhythm. A blood vessel is taken from a donor site in your body to bypass the blocked artery, rerouting blood flow around it.
Find a doctor
If you think you have an arrhythmia, we can help.
Your Heart Care Team
When Do You Need a Heart Specialist?
Your First Cardiology Visit
Recovering from Heart Surgery
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Conditions We Treat
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
> Arrhythmias and Atrial Fibrillation
Chest Pain (Angina)
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Heart Valve Disease
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Why Choose Us for Heart Care?
Heart Health: Prevention and Support