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Heart arrhythmia

Heart arrhythmias are disruptions in a regular heart rhythm, which can include slow, irregular or fast heart beats. They occur when the electrical impulses to the heart stray from their normal sequence and can range from being harmless to life-threatening.

Heart arrhythmia care in Virginia

Your valves, veins and arteries are always in good hands with us.

The electrophysiologists in the HCA Virginia Health System use advanced technology and techniques to help manage and resolve heart arrhythmias. We work with you to manage your symptoms, find the underlying root cause and help you thrive in a life after treatment.

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Understanding your heart health is a valuable preventive care tool. Take our free assessment to determine your risk of heart disease and what you can do about it.

Understanding your heart health is a valuable preventive care tool. Take our free assessment to determine your risk of heart disease and what you can do about it.

Types of heart arrhythmias

Whether your heart rhythm has become too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia) or irregular, we understand how troubling this can be. No matter the symptoms it may bring on, types of arrhythmias include:

  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
  • Atrial flutter
  • Premature atrial contractions
  • Premature ventricular complex (PVC)
  • Supraventricular arrhythmias
  • Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
  • Sick sinus syndrome
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular fibrillation

Heart arrhythmia symptoms and treatments

From diagnosis to treatment, our heart arrhythmia specialists are here to help you understand your condition. In doing so, we will formulate a treatment plan designed to fit your unique needs.

Symptoms of heart arrhythmia

Patients with arrhythmias typically experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty exercising
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Irregular pulse or heartbeat (fast or slow)
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Palpitations (fluttering) or a pounding feeling in the chest
  • Racing feeling in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating

Diagnosing heart arrhythmias

Electrophysiology (EP) is the cardiac specialty that studies the heart's electrical system. The skilled electrophysiologists in our EP labs conduct imaging exams and diagnostic tests to determine the source of an arrhythmia. They can then determine the right approach and procedures to help steady the rhythm of your heartbeat. Some of the diagnostic techniques we use to diagnose arrhythmias include electrocardiograms (ECG), echocardiograms and Holter monitoring.

Treatments for heart rhythm disorders

Often, heart arrhythmias can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes. When more intervention is needed, our experienced cardiac rhythm specialists will determine the best treatment or combination of treatments for your specific needs, which may include:

  • Cardiac ablation
  • Cardioversion
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implantation
  • Pacemaker implantation

Treatments for atrial fibrillation (AFib)

Cardiac ablation, cardioversion and implantable devices can also be used to treat AFib, the most common heart arrhythmia. While it can be caused by environmental, behavioral or genetic factors, it often occurs if you are experiencing atherosclerosis, angina, hypertension or lung problems.

If left untreated, AFib can become permanent over time, increasing your odds of more serious, life-threatening issues, including heart failure. This is, in part, because AFib can cause blood to pool and form clots in the heart's left atrial appendage, significantly increasing the risk of having a stroke. As a result, if experiencing AFib, one of our atrial fibrillation specialists may recommend a course of treatment rooted in a long-term dosage of warfarin (blood thinning medication).

Convergent (or hybrid) maze procedure

The maze procedure is named after the maze-like set of incisions made on the left and right atria. It is a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure that creates scar lines (lesions) on the outside of the heart. However, it does not compromise the membrane sac enclosing the heart and other major surrounding vessels. The lesions work to divert the abnormal electrical impulses in the heart, isolating them and allowing the heart to return to its normal beating pattern.

Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) for non-valvular AFib

The LAAC implant is a minimally invasive treatment alternative for non-valvular AFib that closes off the left atrial appendage. This appendage is believed to be the primary source of stroke-causing clots and the LAAC implant keeps harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream. For this reason, LAAC may enable you to discontinue warfarin and considerably reduce your AFib-related stroke risk.

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