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Causes and Best Treatment For Arrhythmia (Irregular Heartbeat)

A normal heart beats with a steady rhythm, moving about 2,000 gallons of blood through your body each day. However, in some people, the normal rhythm is off, and blood doesn’t move through their systems efficiently. The abnormal beats, which are called arrhythmias, can be life threatening – or harmless.

Arrhythmias may refer to an irregularly quick or slow heart rate. Tachycardia is the name for a fast heart rate when the heart beats more than 100 times per minute. A slow heart rate is called bradycardia, in which the heart beats slower than 60 beats per minute.

A common type of heart arrhythmia is known as an atrial fibrillation, in when your heart beats rapidly and irregularly, increasing your risk of serious health complications such as stroke and heart failure. Inefficient blood flow caused by an arrhythmia can cause damage to other organs, too, including your lungs and brain.

Causes of arrhythmias

Lifestyle can contribute to your development of a heart arrhythmia. If you’re under a lot of stress or use too much caffeine, alcohol, or illicit drugs, an arrhythmia can arise.

Your health also dictates whether you have an arrhythmia. An overactive or underactive thyroid gland, high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep apnea can contribute to arrhythmias. Coronary artery disease and the resulting blocked heart arteries may also be the blame. Changes in your heart structure due to genetics or disease (such as scar tissue from a heart attack) are other possible issues contributing to arrhythmia.

Our goals for treatment

At Heart Rhythm Associates, we strive to determine exactly why you’re suffering with a heart arrhythmia. Some arrhythmias are harmless and just reflect your heart’s normal processes. But if yours is putting you at risk for complications, Dr. De Bruyn offers treatment.

If you have an arrhythmia, our goal is to control it within a relatively normal range. If you have heart disease or another underlying condition causing your arrhythmia, we’ll focus on treating it and reducing risk factors for heart disease and stroke. If you have atrial fibrillation (AFib), a treatment goal is to prevent blood clots and reduce your risk of stroke.

Treatments for arrhythmias

Treatments for arrhythmias include medications, ablation, and implantation of devices to control your heart rate. Dr. De Bruyn also recommends lifestyle changes to help you reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lose excess weight, and quit smoking. You’ll be encouraged to eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly in most cases.

Those with bradycardia are usually treated with a pacemaker that’s installed in the chest. If your heart beats too slowly or stops, the pacemaker sends out an electrical impulse to stimulate your heart rate to beat steadily.

For fast heartbeats (tachycardias), Dr. De Bruyn may offer medications or cardioversion, which involves using paddles or patches applied to your chest that send electrical impulses to your heart to restore normal rhythms.

Catheter ablation is also a possible treatment. During this procedure, heat is applied through a catheter to areas of heart tissue that are causing the arrhythmia, essentially sealing off the pathway and halting the arrhythmia.

Dr. De Bruyn may recommend an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) for men and women who are at a high risk of developing a dangerously fast or irregular heartbeat in the lower ventricles of the heart. The ICD is implanted under the skin of your chest. If the device detects an abnormal heart rate, it sends out an electrical impulse to reset your heart’s rhythm. It can’t cure an abnormal heart rate, but it can reset your heart if one occurs.

Many heart arrhythmias are serious conditions that require expert care. At Heart Rhythm Associates, we’re available to everyone in central Arkansas who suffers from possible cardiac conditions. To take care of your heart health, phone the office or schedule a consultation using this website.

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