What are cardiac arrhythmias?
Surely you have asked yourself before what is cardiac arrhythmia? Cardiac arrhythmias (also called palpitations ) are heart rhythm problems that occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate heartbeats don’t work properly, causing the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or in an irregular manner.
Heart arrhythmia treatment can control or eliminate irregular, slow, or fast heartbeats. The treatment of the arrhythmia focuses on reducing the risk of having a cerebral infarction (as in the case of atrial fibrillation ) and on the prevention of heart failure with low LVEF
How is cardiac arrhythmia diagnosed?
To diagnose cardiac arrhythmia, a cardiologist will review your present symptoms, medical history, and perform a physical exam. You can also perform cardiac monitoring tests that are specific to detect arrhythmias. These may include:
An EKG can detect the electrical activity of the heart. It is the study that is carried out initially
The Holter is a portable electrocardiogram device that can be used for a day or more to record the heart’s activity as you go about your daily routine.
For sporadic arrhythmia, you should keep this portable EKG device turned on and attached to your body, and activate it when symptoms are experienced. This device allows you to monitor your heart rate at the time of symptoms.
Implantable Loop Recorder
It is usually used to detect abnormal heart rhythms. This device is implanted under the chest area under the skin. It is used in patients who have many symptoms but have not been able to detect arrhythmias in previous studies.
tilt table test
The tilt table test is a diagnostic test performed on patients who have had fainting spells, loss of consciousness, or syncope. This diagnostic test is performed in order to investigate the body’s response to changes in position, especially the orthostatic challenge that tilting implies.
Cardiac ablation is an invasive procedure to accurately diagnose arrhythmias, its goal is to destroy the diseased heart tissue that causes or sustains the abnormal heart rhythm.
The stress test is a study used to diagnose arrhythmias and obstruction of the coronary arteries. It consists of having the patient exercise on a sliding band to “stress” the heart and thus determine if there is a blocked coronary artery or a dangerous arrhythmia.
Causes of cardiac arrhythmia
There are many factors that can cause or lead to cardiac arrhythmias, such as:
- A heart attack is happening at the moment.
- Scarring of the heart caused by an old heart attack.
- Changes in the structure of the heart, for example, following cardiomyopathy.
- Blockage of arteries of the heart (coronary artery disease).
- High blood pressure.
- Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
- Consumption of too much alcohol or caffeine.
- Drugs abuse.
- Tumors or thrombi that are generated inside the heart
- sleep apnea
Signs and Symptoms of Heart arrhythmia?
Heart arrhythmia can cause you to have a fluttering sensation in your chest. Usually, these discomforts are harmless. However, some cardiac arrhythmias can cause bothersome and sometimes deadly signs and symptoms.
Some symptoms of cardiac arrhythmia are:
- Agitation in the chest.
- Fast heartbeats (tachycardia)
- Slow heartbeat (bradycardia).
- Chest pain.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Lightheadedness or dizziness.
- Fainting or fainting.
What is the treatment for cardiac arrhythmia?
Treatment is usually needed if the arrhythmia causes significant symptoms or if it puts you at risk for a more serious arrhythmia or a complication of the arrhythmia. To start treatment it is essential to have an accurate diagnosis of the arrhythmia.
Slow heartbeat treatment
If slow heartbeats (bradycardias) do not have a cause that can be corrected, their treatment is usually a pacemaker, since there are no medications that can safely speed up the heart.
Treatment for fast heartbeat
Treatment for a fast heartbeat may include one or more of the following treatments:
- Vagal maneuver. Particular maneuvers include holding your breath and pressing, plunging your face into ice water, or coughing.
- Cardioversion. For atrial fibrillation, cardioversion consists of administering an electrical shock to the heart through paddles or patches that are applied to the chest. The current affects the electrical impulses in the heart and can restore normal heart rhythm.
- Catheter ablation. It consists of passing one or more catheters through the blood vessels until they reach the heart.
Treatment with implantable devices
Treatment of cardiac arrhythmia may also include the use of these types of devices:
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator. This device may be recommended if you are at high risk of developing dangerous heartbeats such as tachycardia or atrial fibrillation, have experienced sudden cardiac arrest, or have certain conditions that increase the chances of cardiac arrest. This device is implanted under the skin near the collarbone and constantly monitors your heart rate. If it detects an abnormal heart rhythm, it begins to deliver a high or low energy shock to restore the normal heart rhythm and save your life.
In some cases, cardiovascular surgery may be the suggested treatment for cardiac arrhythmias such as:
- MAZE procedure. A cardiovascular surgeon makes a series of surgical incisions in the heart tissue to create a scar. The scar does not conduct electricity, preventing abnormal electrical impulses from spreading throughout the heart. It is an effective treatment, it is usually used in patients who do not respond to other treatments
- Cardiac ablation: A catheter is introduced into the cavities of the heart, using medium catheters as a guide in a catheterization room. The catheter is used to record an electrocardiogram (ECG) from inside the heart so that the exact location of abnormal conduction pathways causing arrhythmias can be identified. When the arrhythmia is detected, radiofrequency ablation is performed to destroy abnormal connections that may exist in the heart. In this way, it can be avoided that the person suffers from arrhythmias definitively, without the need to maintain treatment with medicines.
- Coronary bypass surgery. If in addition to arrhythmias, you suffer from serious coronary artery disease, the cardiologist may recommend this surgery, where blood flow to the heart can be improved.