Category Archives: Irregular Heartbeat
As we’ve discussed elsewhere on this website, atrial fibrillation or afib represents the most common cardiac arrhythmia in the United States and worldwide. This has genuinely become a national medical concern, with an estimated 5 million American adults suffering from the condition. However, you may also remember that it is not the irregular heartbeat itself that we’re most concerned about. Instead, this irregular heartbeat may cause blood to pool in the heart’s left atrial appendage. This increases the risk of stroke and heart attack by up to five times. You can learn more about stroke risk in Afib patients here.
While many patients begin their Afib treatment journey with antiarrhythmic and anticoagulant medication, those no longer finding the medication effective or who cannot tolerate the drugs have several potential curative options.
As specialized cardiologists, we encounter a common concern where patients do not seem to receive a definitive diagnosis, but are convinced they have a cardiac arrythmia or irregular heartbeat. To be sure, there is a possibility that the worry is psychosomatic. However, arrhythmias are often difficult to diagnose without specialized tools that a typical primary care practice would not have.
As patients get older, an EKG or electrocardiogram test becomes standard at each physical. After all, the primary risk factor for arrhythmias is age. However, not all arrhythmias are linear. In fact, early on, arrhythmias are often paroxysmal or occasional. Paroxysmal arrhythmias may occur at varying times and there is often no discernable pattern of onset. However, EKGs can only detect an arrhythmia at the time the test is being performed. Think of the EKG as a snapshot in time that would have to coincide exactly with when the patient is having the arrhythmia.
Cardiac catheter ablation is one of the most powerful tools in an electrophysiologist’s armament of tools. But to understand the potential outcomes after an ablation, we need to explore what exactly and ablation entails.
Cardiac catheter ablation involves the threading of a long, thin catheter from a small incision in the groin into the heart. The tip of the catheter has a mapping system that shows the Electrophysiologist the structures of the heart and the electrical patterns and signals emanating from the heart. This mapping system can accurately detect any abnormal heart rhythms, also known as arrhythmias. The cardiac catheter ablation procedure is relatively straightforward and very safe. However, as with any medical procedure, results vary between patients and there may be the possibility of having a second catheter ablation if the first does not completely resolve the arrhythmia issue.
A recent retrospective study of 30,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 44 has raised alarm bells about the use of cannabis products and an increased risk of heart attack and even stroke. Cannabis products are those that contain the psychoactive component of marijuana – THC. As marijuana has been legalized around the United States, its uses have proliferated. Further, new formulations and strains of these products have made them exponentially more potent than the products that were common just a few decades ago. This has resulted in several potential concerns.
When patients come into our office complaining of a fast-beating heart, unexplained fainting or other issues related to the heartbeat, we immediately turn our minds to the concept of an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. It is estimated that over 5 million Americans are living with a Afib or atrial fibrillation which is the most prevalent arrhythmia in the world. Many more may be suffering from other rhythm issues.
Patients experiencing atrial fibrillation or AFib are at a five times higher risk of stroke than those who do not have the condition. As a result, it is critical to get an early diagnosis and follow a comprehensive treatment plan. However, it is also important to understand the various treatment options to make the very best decision for each patient’s circumstance.
Many of us wait until our symptoms are obvious and even debilitating before we seek medical help. This can also be true with cardiovascular issues. Many times, shrugging off smaller abnormalities leads to progressively worse symptoms and ultimately an unfavorable diagnosis with fewer treatment options. With high cholesterol and high blood pressure issues becoming more and more prevalent in the United States the old thinking that heart disease only affects to the elderly is no longer true.
In fact, prevention starts at a young age. 30, 40 and 50-year-olds that address their risk of heart disease, can add years to their life and avoid serious complications later on.
An irregular heartbeat can occur in just about any patient, regardless of gender, age or lifestyle, although it is more common in older patients who are suffering from obesity or excess weight. The duration and severity of the irregular heartbeat can vary widely between patients as well. Some patients may notice a small flutter occasionally, which may or may not get worse over time. Other patients may find themselves going to the hospital thinking that they are having a heart attack because the irregularity is so severe and persistent. These episodes can last anywhere from a few seconds to days, weeks or even months.
Cardiac catheter ablation is the leading edge of arrhythmia treatment. It is currently the safest and most effective way to cure an irregular heartbeat, in many cases, but is also excellent in managing the symptoms caused by atrial fibrillation, or Afib, as well as other common arrhythmias.
Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF is the most common heart arrhythmia or heart rhythm disorder in the US and around the world. AFib begins in the atria, the upper to chambers of the heart. Typically, errant electrical signals in the heart lead to an irregular heartbeat. This can cause significant symptoms including shortness of breath, pain, a sense that the patient’s heart is beating out of their chest and more. Many patients believe that they are having a heart attack and end up in the emergency room. More importantly, AFib can increase the risk of stroke by up to five times and, over the long term, can weaken the heart, leading to heart failure.