What is arrhythmia?
An abnormal heartbeat is called an arrhythmia. When the heart is not able to pump effectively, it can affect the body and keep it from functioning properly. The heart can:
- Beat to quickly (Tachycardia)
- Beat too slowly (Bradycardia)
- Irregularly (Atrial Fibrillation or AFib)
- Along with other conditions
Arrhythmias can have a range of symptoms. When left uncontrolled for a long period of time, more serious symptoms can develop:
- Fatigue or feeling weak
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath
- Pounding in the chest or rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain or pressure in the chest
- Cardiac arrest (in extreme cases)
How is arrhythmia diagnosed?
There are several tests that can help your doctor diagnose an arrhythmia:
- Holter monitor – the monitor can be worn for a period of time and track your heart electrical activity. It gives the doctor a bigger picture of the rhythm of your heart and how it is affected by activity
- Transtelephonic monitor – this is sometimes called an event monitor and can be worn for a long period of time if arrythmia is infrequent or unpredictable.
- Treadmill testing – if your arrythmia is suspected to be exercise-related, you may do a stress test or exercise stress test. While walking or running or a treadmill, or riding a stationary bike, your heart is monitored for irregular heartbeat.
- Tilt-table test – if you have suffered fainting spells you may be asked to do this test that simulates going from laying down to standing up.
- Electrophysiologic testing (EP study)
- Esophageal electrophysiologic procedure
How is arrhythmia treated?
Your doctor will determine whether your arrhythmia causes health risks that need treatment. You and your cardiologist create a treatment plan to keep your heart rate regular and within a healthy range. You may also need to address underlying health conditions that are causing arrhythmia.
Treatments for arrhythmia can include:
- Electrical or Chemical Cardioversion to restore a fast heartbeat to normal
- Implantable Devices – like Pacemaker or Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator
With atrial fibrillation, it is important to prevent clotting in order to prevent stroke. This can be treated with medication or we offer WATCHMAN, a procedure to implant a device in the heart to prevent clotting.
Arrhythmia Care at Guthrie
- Board-certified cardiology specialists: Guthrie non-invasive and interventional cardiologists, electrophysiologist and cardiac, thoracic and vascular surgeons are specially trained in cardiovascular care and board certified.
- Guthrie electrophysiologists offer a full range of services for irregular heartbeats and other conditions related to electrical activity of the heart providing evaluation, diagnosis and treatment for arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation (aFib), congestive heart failure (CHF), sudden cardiac arrest, syncope and ventricular arrhythmia.
- Arrhythmia Center: Patients come to the center to have the function of their pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD), or implantable loop recorders evaluated. The team at the center provides education and support to help relieve anxiety regarding devices and arrhythmias.
- The largest and most experienced heart care team in the region includes advanced practice providers; nurses; therapists; and diagnostic technicians, all trained in specialized care for your heart.
- Guthrie Heart and Vascular Care Center, located in Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital, is a state-of-the-art space for heart and vascular testing and treatment. Located near the emergency department and ICU, there are private patient rooms, cardiac catheterization labs, and a hybrid operating room. The unit is centered around quick efficient care of our patients.
- Cardiac rehabilitation: programs in four locations: Guthrie Healthworks in Corning; Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital; Guthrie Towanda Memorial Hospital; and Troy Community Hospital.