An irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, can be hard to detect by most people.
The heart is a pump with four chambers that beat to an electrical impulse. A normal beat is called sinus rhythm and starts in the right atria moving to the atrioventricular node, then to all parts of the ventricles. This exact path must be followed for the heart to work properly as a pump.
Any time the electrical impulses change, the heart experiences an abnormal rhythm and pumps less effectively. In most people, arrhythmias are minor. But for certain people, the condition can be dangerous and requires treatment. If you have existing heart problems, an arrhythmia can be a serious matter.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of arrhythmia or abnormal heart beat. Atrial fibrillation can be brief or sustained, lasting minutes or hours with the heart rate returning to a normal beat between episodes.
Atrial fibrillation is dangerous because if a piece of a clot leaves the atria and becomes lodged in the artery to the brain, it can result in a stroke.
Our medical team uses imaging technology to create a three-dimensional electrical map of the heart. Once the cause of the rhythm disturbances have been pinpointed, our team can offer treatments not available everywhere, including:
- Holter monitor
- Event monitor
- Exercise stress test
Your medical team has several options that can help you manage your arrhythmia.
Devices such as pacemakers and implantable defibrillators are often used in conjunction with medications. Learn more about our new pacemaker procedure that leaves no visible scar or lump.
UI Heart and Vascular Center physicians are the first in Iowa to use a new technique called cryoablation to correct abnormal heartbeats. This procedure involves the use of sub-zero temperatures to destroy cells that cause abnormal heartbeats. The advantage is that only the tissue causing the abnormal heartbeat is affected, leaving the surrounding normal tissue untouched. Fewer patients are likely to need a pacemaker following this type of ablation.