Your heart has a sophisticated electrical system, but sometimes, that system experiences a short circuit. The result can be an arrhythmia, which is an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. One of the most common arrhythmias is atrial fibrillation (AFib).
Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute offers the tools and expertise to treat AFib and other arrhythmias, from medication to high-tech interventions in the electrophysiology lab. Our heart team performs one of the highest volumes of arrhythmia treatments in South Florida, with excellent outcomes.
What Is Arrhythmia?
An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rate or rhythm. A heartbeat that is too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia) or irregular can interfere with your heart’s ability to pump blood. Irregular blood flow has a higher likelihood of forming clots, as may happen with atrial fibrillation (when rapid heartbeat allows blood to pool in the heart). Arrhythmias can also prevent blood from reaching the heart or the brain. This is why arrhythmias have an increased risk of stroke or heart attack.
Not all arrhythmias are symptomatic, but if you do have symptoms, they may include:
- Fluttery feeling in your heart, or feeling that your heart is “skipping” a beat
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Fainting or near-fainting
- Chest pain
- Abnormal sweating
- Shortness of breath
How We Care for Arrhythmia at Memorial
An arrhythmia diagnosis can cause anxiety. We understand, and we treat hundreds of people each year for irregular heartbeats, offering:
- Expert diagnosis: We diagnose arrhythmias using both noninvasive monitoring tests and minimally invasive tests that aim to record your heart’s electrical activity. We work with specialists in cardiac imaging and cardiac catheterization to determine the appropriate test for each patient.
- High-volume ablation center: A common treatment for arrhythmias is ablation. We perform radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation. Radiofrequency ablation uses heat to safely destroy the heart tissue causing the irregular rhythm. Cryoablation has the same function, but uses cold instead of heat. As a high-volume program, we do more than 700 cardiac ablations each year, which gives us significant expertise.
- Sophisticated electrophysiology suites: We have three suites dedicated to electrophysiology procedures. (Electrophysiology is the branch of cardiology that focuses on the heart’s electrical activity.) We’ve invested in the latest tools to treat patients with arrhythmias. For example, using 3-D mapping technology, we can pinpoint an arrhythmia’s location.
- Implantable devices: For life-threatening arrhythmias that can’t be treated with medicine or ablation, we may implant a pacemaker to correct a slow heartbeat, or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to correct a fast or irregular heartbeat.
- Team approach to care: Our team is here to serve you, whether you have an arrhythmia or a related coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, heart failure or congenital heart condition. All of our heart and vascular specialists work together for the patient’s benefit. We call this approach TotalHeart: one center with multiple specialists and treatment options.
Types of Arrhythmias
We treat several types of abnormal heart rhythms, including:
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib): The most common type of serious arrhythmia, AFib causes the upper chambers of the heart to quiver or beat irregularly. It increases your risk for stroke and heart attack. About 9 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have AFib.
- Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT): With SVT, the heart sometimes beats too fast. Not all cases of SVT need treatment. For those that do, we use ablation to safely destroy the heart tissue causing the arrhythmia.
- Ventricular tachycardia (VT): VT is less common than SVT and can be life threatening. We often treat VT with ablation.
- Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome: A rapid heartbeat caused by an extra electrical pathway, WPW is treatable with medication or ablation.
- Cardiac channelopathies: These inherited arrhythmias include long QT syndrome and short QT syndrome. We test for them in families and treat them with medication or other interventions.
- Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS): POTS is a fast heart rate upon standing. We are usually able to treat it with medication.
To schedule an appointment or learn more about heart and vascular care at Memorial, call 855-400-6284.