Patients with slow heart rates (bradycardia) can experience dizziness and possibly loss of consciousness (syncope). This can require implantation of a pacemaker to stabilize their condition.
Patients seeking help for very rapid and sometimes irregular heartbeats (tachycardia and arrhythmia) can experience symptoms including palpitations, chest discomfort, dizziness and difficulty breathing. A variety of options may be available for these cases, including medication and invasive procedures.
Diagnostic methods and tools depend on the symptoms. First, a thorough history is obtained from the patient, then an electrical recording of the heart (electrocardiogram, or ECG) identifies any abnormalities in the generation or distribution of the heart’s electricity.
Heart monitoring devices:
Patients may be asked to wear lightweight heart monitors 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 options for abnormal heart rhythm:
Patients with markedly slow heart rates may require the insertion of a pacemaker. For rapid heartbeat the problem can sometimes be treated, and possibly cured, with ablation (cauterization) procedures that correct abnormal electrical connections in the heart. These are done with catheters and probes inserted in the groin area. Some other patients may respond better to therapeutic medication.
Certain patients with weak heart muscles or inherited electrical abnormalities sometimes require implantable defibrillators to decrease their risk of heart-related sudden death. Some forms of pacemakers can, by synchronization of the heart’s electricity, improve the heart’s performance.
Patients with atrial fibrillation, a disease associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart symptoms, can expect a multidisciplinary approach to their diagnosis and treatment.
The arrhythmia team includes highly trained physicians who are qualified electro-physiologists specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disturbances. Electro-physiologists are Western-educated and have worked in respected international hospitals. Their experience includes research to develop new, accepted methods of treating heart rhythm problems.
Physicians are aided by a dedicated team of experienced nurses and technicians, caring for patients both in the outpatient arrhythmia clinic and in the electrophysiology (EP) laboratory, the procedure room where rhythm disturbances are diagnosed and treated.