Heart Rhythm Services
The Heart Rhythm Services specialists at Summa Cardiovascular Institute (SCVI) investigate electrical issues within the heart, including abnormally slow, fast or irregular heartbeats.
Heart Rhythm diagnoses may include:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Premature atrial contractions, sometimes called PAC or APC, or premature supraventricular contractions
- Supraventricular tachycardia, or paroxysmal SVT (PSVT)
- Sick sinus syndrome
- Atrial flutter
- Premature ventricular complex, or PVC
- Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach)
- Ventricular fibrillation
- Accessory pathway tachycardias
- AV nodal reentrant tachycardia
- Long QT syndrome
- Heart block
The most common heart rhythm condition is Atrial fibrillation (also known as AFib or AF). It currently affects more than 2.5 million adults in America, and the risk for developing the condition increases with age. AFib can greatly impact quality of life, causing heart palpitations, chronic fatigue and chest pain. Its prevalence is expected to more than double in the U.S. during the next 30-40 years.
In a normal heart, the four chambers of the heart beat in a steady, rhythmic pattern. AFib causes the upper chambers of the heart (atria) to quiver or twitch erratically (fibrillate) which results in a rapid and irregular heartbeat. Instead of one electrical impulse moving through the heart, many impulses begin in the atria. This happens as a result of the structure of the heart and its electrical system changing over time as we age. The atria may beat as often as 300 times per minute — about four times faster than normal. Many patients with A-Fib compare it to the feeling of a goldfish flopping in their chest. If left untreated, AFib increases the risk of stroke fivefold, and can double the risk of a heart-related death.
As the electrical pathway in the heart changes during the aging process, one or more "triggers" may develop, causing the development of electrical circuits which send extra impulses to the heart muscle at a faster than normal rate. These extra electrical signals cause the heart to beat in a fast, disorganized and inefficient way, making it more difficult for blood to be pumped efficiently. With the blood supply moving more slowly throughout the body, the chances for a blood clot to form are increased. If a blood clot is pumped out of the heart and travels to the brain, it can cause a stroke.
Without treatment, an arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythm disorder can cause the heart muscle to weaken. This condition, cardiomyopathy, can lead to heart failure and result in long-term disability and/or death.
When diagnosed with an arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythm disorder, it is normal to experience feelings of anxiety. The specialists at Summa Cardiovascular Institute can explain treatment options and plot the best course of treatment for your specific case.
To learn more about Summa Cardiovascular Institute, call (888) 496-7168.