If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an abnormal heartbeat, also referred to as arrhythmia, cardiac catheter ablation may be right for you — particularly when medication to control it has been unsuccessful.
At Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular, our highly skilled team of cardiovascular specialists have helped many patients correct the causes of their irregular heartbeats and return to healthy heart function and living.
What is atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia). It occurs when rapid, disorganized electrical signals cause the heart’s two upper chambers — the atria — to contract very fast and irregularly (fibrillate) and out of synch with the heart’s lower two chambers (ventricles). This results in a rapid, irregular heartbeat.
There are three types of AFib:
Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: The faulty electrical signals and rapid heart rate begin suddenly then stop on their own within about a week and usually in less than 24 hours.
Persistent atrial fibrillation: The abnormal heart rhythm continues for more than a week. It may stop on its own, or it can be stopped with treatment.
Permanent atrial fibrillation: A condition in which a normal heart rhythm can’t be restored with treatment. Both paroxysmal and persistent AFib may become more frequent and, over time, result in permanent AFib.
Common symptoms of AFib and other arrhythmias
Whether the heart is beating too fast or too slow, all arrhythmias have the potential to cause serious symptoms if left untreated. These include:
- A racing heartbeat
- Heart flutter or palpitation
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of fainting and/or weakness
- Heart failure
If you have symptoms of arrythmia, your doctor may order heart monitoring so you both can learn more about how your heart is functioning.
There are many factors that can out you at risk of irregular heartbeat, including:
- Coronary artery disease
- High blood pressure
- Untreated diabetes
- Congenital heart defects
- Caffeine, nicotine and drug-use
- Thyroid problems
For many patients, medication and/or lifestyle changes may be the best course of action.
Our minimally invasive approaches to treating AFib and arrhythmia
If medicine and a healthier lifestyle haven’t controlled your arrhythmia, if you can’t take medicine to control it or if you have certain types of arrhythmia, your cardiologist may recommend a procedure to treat it. Some of these treatments include:
- Catheter ablation
- Maze procedure
- Permanent pacemaker implantation
- The WATCHMAN device for stroke risk reduction without blood thinners
To learn more about our approach to treating arrythmias and AFib, or to get a second opinion about your options, call us at 503-257-0959.