An arrhythmia is an abnormal or disturbed heartbeat and can cause patients to feel unsettled. Most patients can find relief with newer medicines that solve their problem by keeping their arrhythmia in check. However, some patients may need a minimally invasive procedure.
The Gill Heart Institute’s Heart Rhythm Program brings together a team that includes:
• Cardiac electrophysiologists
• Cardiovascular surgeons
• Cardiac anesthesiologists
Our team focuses on patient-centered care when considering medicines, therapy, or catheter-based or minimally invasive surgery. For appointments or additional information, call 859-323-0295.
Once a doctor has recorded an arrhythmia and established its location in the heart, he or she can decide if treatment is necessary and which treatment is most appropriate. When treating arrhythmias, doctors consider if an underlying heart problem such as heart disease, past heart attack or valve disease is contributing to an arrhythmia.
Physicians also evaluate conditions such as ischemia (lack of oxygen to the heart) or electrolyte or metabolic abnormalities, which may affect any underlying heart problem, and determine if the patient prefers drug therapy or other treatment approaches.
The cardiologists in Gill’s heart rhythm program are experts in treating patients with arrhythmia. We offer several minimally invasive procedures not available elsewhere. Our specialists focus on what is the best and most conservative treatment, whether you need:
• Medicines. • Resynchronization therapy. • A catheter-based or minimally invasive procedure.
When medical treatment is required to suppress an atrial arrhythmia, physicians decide which drugs to use based on the risks and quality-of-life effects of the arrhythmia, the presence of any underlying disease, the severity of a person's symptoms, and the risk of side effects. Common medications include a category of drugs referred to as antiarrhythmic agents, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and digitalis.
Some antiarrhythmic medications may be harmful to patients who have an implanted pacemaker or who had or are having surgery, including dental surgery. Patients should also be aware that caffeine can decrease the effectiveness of antiarrhythmic medications.In some cases, such as with arrhythmias that cannot be treated with medication, physicians may use interventional or surgical procedures to control the arrhythmia. These procedures may include:
The following are just a few of the diagnostic tests that help doctors further understand and identify heart arrhythmias. For more specific information, consult your cardiologist or other health care provider.
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). A test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias) and can sometimes detect heart muscle damage.
Signal Averaged Electrocardiogram (SAE). A test that is much like an ECG, but takes longer because it records more information related to abnormal electrical activity.
Holter monitor. A small, portable, battery-powered ECG machine worn by a patient to record heartbeats on tape over a period of 24 to 48 hours during normal activities. At the end of the time period, the monitor is returned to the doctor's office so the tape can be read and evaluated.
Event recorder. A small, portable, battery-powered machine used by a patient to record ECG over a long period of time. Patients may keep the recorder for several weeks. Each time symptoms are experienced, the patient presses a button on the recorder to record the ECG sample. As soon as possible, this sample is transmitted to the doctor's office for evaluation.
Tilt table test. A test performed while the patient is connected to ECG and blood pressure monitors and strapped to a table that tilts the patient from a lying to standing position. This test is used to determine if the patient is prone to sudden drops in blood pressure or slow pulse rates with position changes.
Electrophysiology study. A test in which insulated electric catheters are placed inside the heart to study the heart's electrical system.