What is an arrhythmia?

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An arrhythmia is an irregular heart rhythm that is too fast, too slow or seems to skip a beat.

Your heart rhythm is controlled by electrical impulses that signal your heart to contract and pump blood to the rest of your body. Usually the whole heart muscles contracts between 60 and 100 times per minute. Each contraction equals one heartbeat. If these regular electrical impulses “short circuit”, your heart will beat inefficiently.

Some arrhythmias are harmless and occur as a normal response to exercise or stress, however other types of heart rhythm issues are associated with heart disease and require medical treatment to keep the heartbeat regular.

Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

Atrial Fibrillation (afib) is a common type of arrhythmia that occurs in the upper chamber (atrium) of the heart. In afib, your heart muscle quivers and spasms instead of pumping regularly. Symptoms usually include heart palpitations, discomfort and dizziness.

Afib causes reduced blood flow and dramatically increases your risk for blood clots, stroke or even death. Your heart cannot fully contract and pump blood throughout your body so blood often pools in the atria where it can easily form blood clots. These clots travel through the body and can block blood flow to the brain (stroke).

If you have afib, we’ll partner with you to reduce your stroke risk and keep your heart rhythm

Managing Heart Rhythm Problems

Depending on the cause of your arrhythmia, we’ll help choose the right treatment for you. Lifestyle changes and medication can often help correct your heart rhythm, but many patients require a cardiac device, like a pacemaker, to constantly monitor and treat an irregular heart rhythm. Other options include:

  • Cardioversion – A quick electrical shock to restore the heart rhythm, usually done in an emergency.
  • Cardiac devices – Implanted pacemakers or ICDs are programmed to constantly monitor and provide a small shock to restore a normal rhythm if you experience an arrhythmia.
  • Ablation – A minimally invasive procedure to disable the area of the heart that is conducting the abnormal electrical impulses.
  • Surgery – If other treatments are successful, surgical procedures can remove the area of the heart causing the electrical arrhythmia.

At Tennessee Heart & Vascular, we have over 30 years of experience caring for heart patients in Hendersonville, Portland and Springfield. We partner with expert electrophysiologists and work closely with experienced cardiovascular surgeons if you require advanced treatment.