We are viewed as the electricians of the heart. We treat rhythm disturbances; hearts which beat too slow, too fast or erratically.
For slow heart rates, sometimes medication adjustments may help the situation but often a pacemaker is required, which is inserted by us. The pacemaker does not allow the heart to go too slow and records any other arrhythmia. It does not stop fast arrhythmias from occurring.
In patients with a weakened heart, either secondary to coronary artery disease or prior heart attack or from a virus, the patient is at increased risk of a life threatening, rapid heart rhythm disturbance called ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF). You may have seen this on tv or in the movies; somebody collapses and paramedics arrive, shocking the chest. If the paramedic arrives within 4 minutes, the patient survives. If not, the patient does not make it.
In this situation, we implant a defibrillator underneath the skin, like a pacemaker and it is like a paramedic, responding within seconds to save the patient’s life. The patient then gives us a call and goes on with his or her day.
All defibrillators also have pacemakers as well. In some cases, a third lead can be added to help the heart pump stronger. This is called a bi ventricular ICD.
One way to treat arrhythmias is with specific medications called anti arrhythmic drugs. When these are either ineffective, cause side effects or are not preferable to the patient, the arrhythmia can be treated or cured with ABLATION. There are many different types of ablations for the many different kinds of arrhythmias and this must be discussed with us. We tend to use the newest, safest technology available, to best serve our patients.
Another issue we deal with is syncope; sudden loss of consciousness. In most cases, this is secondary to a sudden drop in blood pressure or sudden change in heart rhythm. It is only rarely caused by low blood sugar or a neurological event.
We often help to find out the cause of palpitations and then fix the problem. Sometimes, shortness of breath, fatigue, anxiety are manifestations of arrhythmia.
Stroke is often caused by a blood clot from the heart and may be secondary to underlying Arial fibrillation. We help treat all aspects of atrial fibrillation including rhythm management, guiding anti coagulation or alternatives to blood thinners, ablation of the arrhythmia, etc.