Your heart has its own built-in electrical system, including a natural pacemaker, called the sinus node, that triggers electrical impulses. The number of times this node fires every minute determines your heart rate.
After the initial electrical signal is triggered, it travels from the top to the bottom of the heart, making muscles contract in a very precise order to properly pump blood through and then out of the heart. A regular, normal rhythm is created as each area of the heart contracts.
Any time your heart rate and rhythm deviate from normal, you have an arrhythmia. It may make the heart slow down, speed up, or become irregular.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of serious arrhythmia. This arrhythmia develops when the electrical signals in the atria -- the heart’s two upper chambers -- get disorganized and fast, swirling around the atria and making the muscles flutter rather than contract.
Atrial fibrillation may be caused by a health condition such as an overactive thyroid, high blood pressure, or diabetes, but it commonly develops when the electrical system is damaged by coronary artery disease, heart failure, and valvular heart disease. Atrial fibrillation can lead to stroke and heart failure.
Heart arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation, may not give any warning signs, but if you notice any of the following symptoms, contact Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology to schedule an assessment:
When you come to Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology, you’ll benefit from the most advanced technology and the convenience of medical testing right in the office. Your treatment is always customized, but it may contain any of these elements:
Modifying risk factors: The doctors will treat any underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure and sleep apnea. They’ll also suggest taking steps to change factors that increase your risk, such as being overweight.
Medications: A variety of medications are available to slow down a fast heart rate and change an abnormal rhythm back to a normal, steady rhythm.
Device implantation: The doctor may recommend you have a device implanted to control your heart, such as a pacemaker, defibrillator, or cardiac resynchronization pacemaker.
Catheter ablation: This procedure stops an arrhythmia by treating the area of your heart where the abnormal rhythm starts.
Treat underlying heart disease: Treatment recommendations are made according to the type of underlying heart disease you have.