Cardiac Arrhythmia

 

A cardiac arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm.

 

There are two major types

 

 

Tachycardia

 

This refers to an abnormal fast heart rhythm.

 

These rhythms can result from the upper heart chambers (e.g. Inappropriate sinus tachycardia, SVT, atrial tachycardia, atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation) - usually not life threatening.

 

The heart lower chambers can be the source (e.g. ventricular tachycardia, ventricular flutter, ventricular fibrillation) - usually life threatening. 

 

These have different treatments and some require more urgent intervention. 

 

 

Bradycardia

 

This refers to an abnormal slow heart rhythm. Sinus bradycardia is a slower than normal regular rhythm that normally does not require treatment. 

 

High degree AV block, pauses longer than 3 seconds while awake or 4.0 seconds when asleep will usually require a permanent pacemaker. 

 

Slow rhythms that need a permanent pacemaker often present with symptoms such as dizziness and blackouts.

 

 

Atrial fibrillation 

 

Atrial fibrillation is common heart rhythm originating from the upper chambers of the heart (the atria). The area around the pulmonary veins is usually the source.

 

Risk factors

 

1. Elevated BMI or obesity

2. Alcohol binges

3. Sedentary lifestyle

4. Obstructive sleep apnea

5. Disease of the mitral heart valve including a narrowedor leaky valve

6. Rheumatic heart disease

 

This is a very important abnormal heart rhythm to recognise. The heart rhythm itself is not life threatening. It may result in palpitations, shortness of breath and chest pain. Very rarely it may weaken the heart muscle. as it is associated with an increased risk of blood clot formation and stroke in certain patients. 

 

Patients with one or more of the following risk factors have an increased risk of stroke and usually require a blood thinning medication

 

1. Age > 65 years

2. Female gender (if > 65 years)

3. Age greater than 75 years

4. Hypertension

5. Vascular disease

6. Diabetes

7. Heart failure

8. Previous stroke

 

I have a great deal of experience in managing this condition. 

 

In addition I have regular contact with electrophysiologists - cardiac specialists that have expertise in pulmonary vein isolation - a procedure with the potential to cure patients of their atrial fibrillation long term.

Book an appointment now and determine whether you might be a candidate for this procedure.