Arrhythmia (Irregular Heartbeat) Treatment in Mountain Brook, AL
What Is Heart Arrhythmia?
An arrhythmia, also referred to as cardiac dysrhythmia, is a condition characterized by an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. When a heart arrhythmia occurs, the heart may beat too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregularly (atrial fibrillation).
Over four million Americans—most over the age of 60—have a heart arrhythmia. In most cases an arrhythmia produces mild fluttering symptoms in the chest and is harmless; however, some heart arrhythmias can signal the presence of an underlying heart condition which is putting your health at risk.
Diagnosing and treating arrhythmia early can prevent more serious ramifications of the condition. To schedule an appointment with a healthcare practitioner in Mountain Brook who specializes in arrhythmia treatment, call (334) 781-7319 or contact Dr. Ryan McWhorter online.
Each day, your heart muscle pumps blood continuously through your circulatory system. Your heart muscle has four chambers—two atria and two ventricles. Your sinus node—your body's real pacemaker in your right atrium—produces an electrical signal that initiates each heartbeat. The heart contracts as the signal travels through the chambers and causes blood to first pump through the heart and then into the rest of the body. This combined effort produces a normal heartbeat. When an arrhythmia is present, it is due to a disruption somewhere in this process.
Arrhythmias can occur in normal, healthy individuals who do not have heart disease. In healthy hearts, irregular heartbeat causes may include:
- Substance abuse (especially cocaine, methamphetamine, and inhaled aerosols)
- Diet pills
- Cough and cold remedies
- Emotional extremes like stress, terror, or shock
Recurrent arrhythmias, often related to an underlying heart condition, give more cause for concern. These arrhythmias causes can include:
- Heart disease
- Coronary artery disease
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Changes in the heart muscle
- Valve disorders
- Injuries from a heart attack
- After-effects of heart surgery
- Electrolyte imbalances in the blood
Other risk factors linked to the development of arrhythmia include sleep apnea, aging, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and thyroid issues.
Symptoms of Heart Arrhythmia
Arrhythmia symptoms do not always indicate a serious problem. Likewise, the absence of symptoms does not mean you are not suffering from an arrhythmia or other heart condition. It is not uncommon for your healthcare provider to discover an arrhythmia on a routine EKG before you ever notice symptoms.
Symptoms of heart arrhythmia include:
- Racing (tachycardia) or slowed (bradycardia) heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Breathing problems (especially shortness of breath)
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
- Fluttering in the chest
Cardiac Arrhythmia Diagnosis
Detection and treatment in the early stages can help detect underlying conditions that may be causing the cardiac arrhythmia. Since arrhythmias worsen after a heart episode, taking control of your heart health before it is too late can not only reverse or prevent arrhythmias but also prevent more life-threatening heart conditions as well.
Your medical history, together with a physical examination and a review of your symptoms will be necessary for an arrhythmia diagnosis. Your cardiologist will also likely use a combination of diagnostic tests to evaluate your heartbeat and overall heart health. These tests may include:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Holter monitor
- Transtelephonic monitor (event recorder)
- Exercise stress test
- Tilt-table test
- Electrophysiological testing and mapping
Treatment for Irregular Heartbeat
In most cases, discontinuing the substance or treating the underlying condition causing the arrhythmia will resolve your irregular heartbeat symptoms. If not, medications and various procedures are available to eliminate or control your abnormal heart rhythm. Your arrhythmia treatment plan may include:
- Antiarrhythmic medication to control your heart rate or restore a normal heart rhythm
- Blood-thinning medications to control atrial fibrillation to stop deadly blood clots from developing
- Catheter ablation, a procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to destroy areas of heart tissue causing your arrhythmia
- Cardioversion, which delivers a shock to your heart via paddle or patch on your chest to restore a normal rhythm
- Implantable devices like pacemakers and defibrillator to help produce the electrical impulses necessary for a regular heartbeat
- Surgical treatments including the Maze procedure, which creates scars that form blocks to guide electrical impulses in the heart, or coronary bypass surgery, which grafts arteries and veins to the coronary arteries to improve blood supply to the heart
If you are experiencing what you believe may be an arrhythmia, schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare practitioner in Mountain Brook who specializes in treatment for irregular heartbeat. Call (334) 781-7319 or contact Dr. Ryan McWhorter online.
Alabama Functional Medicine
Address7040 Sydney Curve
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