Depending on your diagnosis, your cardiologist will create a comprehensive treatment program to treat your arrhythmia. Treatment for arrhythmias may include:
- Ablation In some cases, when the electrical flow of the heart gets blocked or experiences a short circuit disturbs normal heart rhythms, the most effective treatment is to destroy the tissue housing the short circuit. This procedure is called cardiac ablation. It is a relatively non-invasive procedure that involves inserting catheters—narrow, flexible wires—into a blood vessel to locate the site of damage and restore electrical flow. For many types of arrhythmias, catheter ablation is successful in 90-98 percent of cases—eliminating the need for open-heart surgeries or long-term drug therapies.
- Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs) ICDs are invaluable for protecting a patient from sudden cardiac arrest. These small devices, about the size of a pager, are implanted below the collarbone. Wires from the device are led to the heart to continuously monitor the heart's rhythm. If a dangerous arrhythmia begins, the heart is shocked back into the correct rhythm. These devices also keep a record of the heart's rhythms which can be wirelessly transmitted for analysis by the cardiologist.
- Medical Management Depending on the nature and severity of your arrhythmias, your physicians may prescribe medicine to help regulate your heart. Or, they may use medicine in combination with one of these other treatments.
- Pacemakers Pacemakers are small sources of electrical stimulation implanted in the heart to maintain a healthy rhythm. Pacemakers are used to treat bradycardia (slow heart rate), as well as atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and syncope. They work by delivering an electrical shock to the heart to retrigger a healthy rhythm.
- Implantable Loop Recorders Sometimes, a patient's arrhythmia may not show up while the ECG is being recorded. Your physician may suggest loop recording. A small recordable device is placed underneath the skin, close to the heart, and records the heart's rhythms during a period of time. The test results are sent to the cardiologist, so he or she can analyze the patterns for cardiac arrhythmias.
- Laser Lead Extractions The leads (wires) that lead from the implantable device to the heart may become fractured or infected. Your electrophysiologists can replace or remove these leads by using an extraction device wrapped in laser fiberoptics.