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Heart Rhythm Problems

Heart rhythm problems are more common than most people think. Each year, millions of Americans are affected by heart rhythm disorders, most of which can be treated.

Abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, can cause you to feel like your heart skipped a beat or like it’s racing out of control. Listen to an example of an abnormal heart rhythm. 

There are four common types of arrhythmias:

  • Bradycardia
  • Irregular or extra heartbeats
  • Supraventricular Tachycardia – atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation, paroxysmal SVT
  • Ventricular Tachycardia (VT)

Arrhythmias can be life-threatening if left untreated. At AnMed Health Heart and Vascular Center, we use several diagnostic tests to identify arrhythmias including electrocardiogram (ECG), Holter Monitor, a stress test, a tilt table test and an electrophysiology study (EP) if necessary. If an arrhythmia is not revealed with routine testing, your doctor may suggest an implantable loop recorder.

The Heart and Vascular Center’s electrophysiology lab offers some of the latest advances in technology and treatment for arrhythmias, including bi-ventricular implantable pacemakers, MRI proof pacemakers, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators or ICDs, and ablation. 

While many treatments involve implantable devices, ablation takes a different approach and burns away cells to eliminate the abnormal rhythm. Here’s how it works:

During an EP study, the electrophysiologist (a cardiologist with specialized training in the electrical system of the heart) will thread long, thin, flexible wires to the heart, normally through the groin. When the electrophysiologist determines which area of the heart is causing the arrhythmia, a special wire carrying radiofrequency energy is used to cauterize the site. Ablation is an outpatient procedure that normally takes only a couple of hours to complete and has few complications. At AnMed Health, our robot-assisted navigation system makes it easier to guide the catheter during ablation procedures. This ease of access helps to shorten the procedure time and reduce patients’ radiation exposure.

Read Susan's Story about why an MRI-proof pacemaker was the right choice for her.

Reducing Stroke Risk in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation

AnMed Health is the first hospital in the region to offer an implant called WATCHMAN that makes it possible for some long-term warfarin patients to stop taking the medication. Patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF), and who struggle with warfarin, are candidates for the device.

For patients with AF, sometimes called A-Fib, the device can help reduce the risk of AF-related stroke. The WATCHMAN implant closes off an area of the heart where harmful blood clots can form in AF patients. When the device in implanted, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.

About half of potential warfarin patients are not being treated with the drug because of side effects or because they do not take the medication as prescribed. Implanting WATCHMAN is a one-time procedure. Ask your doctor for more information.