Diagnosis of Heart Rhythm Abnormalities
Diagnostic methods are chosen by the physician based on the patient’s symptoms. First, a thorough history is obtained from the patient, then an electrocardiogram (ECG), or electrical recording of the heart, identifies any abnormalities in the generation or distribution of the heart’s electricity. Testing is done in the electrophysiology (EP) laboratory.
To assist in diagnosis and treatment, patients may be asked to wear a lightweight heart monitor for up to seven days. If the patient has infrequent but serious symptoms, a tiny heart monitor can be implanted under the skin for up to three years.
Treatment for Heart Rhythm Abnormalities
The Heart Rhythm Abnormalities Program’s multidisciplinary team develops individualized treatment plans according to the type of heart rhythm abnormality detected in the patient.
Patients with slow heart rates (bradycardia) may require implantation of a pacemaker to stabilize their condition.
Patients with a rapid heart rhythm (tachycardia) or with an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) can be treated with therapeutic medication or with other therapies. Rapid heart rhythms can be treated, and possibly cured, with catheter ablation. Catheter ablation is an invasive therapy used to correct abnormal electrical connections in the heart; catheters and probes are inserted into the heart through the groin area.
Certain patients with weak heart muscles or inherited electrical abnormalities of the heart sometimes require implantable defibrillators to decrease their risk of sudden cardiac death, or sudden cardiac arrest, when the heart stops beating. Some forms of pacemakers can, by synchronization of the heart’s electricity, improve the heart’s performance.
Patients with atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm abnormality associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, and other symptoms, can expect a multidisciplinary approach to their diagnosis and treatment.
Heart Rhythm Abnormalities Program Caregivers
The Heart Rhythm Abnormalities Program has a multidisciplinary team of highly-trained professionals. Caregivers involved in patient care for this program are:
- Specialized nurses
- Laboratory technicians
- Other specialized technicians
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