Heart Rhythm Disorders
Our heart produces and conducts electrical activity through an intricate network of electrical wiring that stimulates the heart to contract. Under certain conditions, our electrical systems go haywire can make the heart beat too fast, too slow, or out of rhythm. These irregular heart rhythms are called arrhythmias.
At Aurora BayCare, we have cardiac electrophysiologists who specialize in working with people who have abnormal heart rhythms and other conditions related to the heart’s electrical system. Some of the most common cardiac rhythm disorders we manage include:
- Heart palpitations
- Tachycardias (rapid heart rate), including AFib, atrial flutter, and SVT
- Bradycardia (slow heart rate)
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
- Cardiac syndromes, including Brugada syndrome, Long QT syndrome (LQTS), Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome
What Causes Heart Arrhythmias?
Irregular heart rhythms are more common among people who have diseases that weaken the heart, such as heart failure, narrowed heart valves, or heart defects that were present a birth. Other conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disorders, and sleep apnea can increase your risk for arrhythmias.
In addition, some heart rhythm problems can be triggered by tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, and physical or emotional stress.
What are the Risks of Irregular Heartbeats?
AFib, the most common form of arrhythmia, increases your risk of stroke by five times. Because your blood isn’t pumping the way it should, clots can form. Those clots can break free and travel to your brain, blocking critical blood flow. When your brain doesn’t get blood and the oxygen it carries, brain cells die.
AFib also places you at significantly higher risk for congestive heart failure. When your heart rate beats faster than normal for an extended time, your heart muscle is damaged, leading to congestive heart failure.
Other heart rhythm disorders carry similar health risks. People with bradycardia (slow heart rate) may experience tired, dizziness, or frequent fainting spells. If your heart rate drops low enough, you many not get enough oxygen to your brain.
Your heart may also have abnormal electrical circuits that can fire unpredictably, causing potentially dangerous, life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias such as such as ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. (When fluttering or fibrillation occurs in the upper chambers of the heart, it’s called atrial fibrillation. When it occurs in the lower chambers, it’s called ventricular fibrillation.) Ventricular arrhythmia and ventricular fibrillation can lead to sudden cardiac death.
Proper management of your arrhythmia can reduce these risks.
The electrophysiologists at Aurora BayCare are specialists who focus on the electrical rhythms of your heart. Talk to us for a wider range of arrhythmia treatment options, access to the latest clinical research, and better symptom relief.