Irregular heart rhythm treatment aims to treat heart arrhythmias, a condition where the heart beats:
There are several kinds of arrhythmias. Of these conditions, atrial fibrillation (also called AF or AFib) is the most common type of arrhythmia; it tends to affects those aged 60 years and older.
Depending on your age, overall heart health, and any underlying causes of arrhythmia, your treatment may include one or more of the following:
Lifestyle changes can improve overall heart health and manage other underlying conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
These lifestyle changes include:
To restore normal heart rhythm and prevent a relapse of arrhythmias, anti-arrhythmic medication may be given to:
Other medications such as blood thinners, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers or anticoagulants may also be prescribed to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.
Cardioversion converts an abnormally fast heart rate to a normal rhythm. There are 2 forms of cardioversion:
Additional procedures are often needed to maintain a normal heart rhythm.
Catheter ablation is a non-surgical procedure that ablates (removes) the affected area of the heart.
It is the most common type of irregular heart rhythm treatment for atrial fibrillation. It is also an option for ventricular fibrillation and for those at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
Catheter ablation is recommended when the arrhythmia cannot be controlled by medicine or cardioversion.
If your arrhythmia is serious, you may need a permanent cardiac pacemaker. A pacemaker works by continuously monitoring the heart rhythm. If there is an abnormal heart rate, the pacemaker will emit an electrical charge to reset the heart to a normal rhythm.
A pacemaker may be recommended for those who have had or are at risk for cardiac arrest.
If your arrhythmia is serious, you may need an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). An ICD is a small battery-powered device.
This device is smaller than a deck of cards and contains a small computer that monitors the heart rate and delivers small electrical shocks when needed to regulate any electrical problems
An ICD is able to perform cardioversion, defibrillation and pacing of the heart.
Using an ICD does not reverse heart disease, but can reduce the risk of cardiac arrest. ICD is the preferred treatment for patients at risk for sudden cardiac death due to:
Surgical ablation, also known as a maze procedure, is a major surgery done under general anaesthesia. Surgery is usually done only when all other treatments have not been successful.
During the surgery:
A maze procedure may be done through small cuts in the chest or as open-heart surgery.
The goal of irregular heart rhythm treatment is to:
Your doctor may advise irregular heart rhythm treatment if your:
Studies indicate that catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation successfully improves the condition at a rate of 95 - 98%, even after medication is stopped.
Clinical studies have also demonstrated that catheter ablation:
Depending on the treatment, side effects of arrhythmia treatment can include:
When choosing the most suitable treatment option for your condition, you and your doctor must consider the potential benefits and associated risks.