Arrhythmia (Irregular Heartbeat)
An arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) is any variation in the normal heartbeat. An arrhythmia occurs when the heart beats too fast (tachycardia) or too slow (bradycardia). Heart rhythm specialists at Lehigh Valley Heart Institute’s Comprehensive Heart Rhythm Management Program offers many ways to treat arrhythmias.
Many arrhythmias are minor, causing only occasional abnormal heartbeats and requiring no treatment. Others, such as atrial fibrillation, can be life-threatening because they increase the risk for blood clots and strokes. Arrhythmias are of special concern in people who also have heart disease or heart failure.
Treatment for arrhythmia
An arrhythmia is often controlled with medication. However, if you need a procedure to correct your irregular heartbeat, you will get the care you need at Lehigh Valley Heart Institute’s Comprehensive Heart Rhythm Management Program.
We offer a complete suite of medical, surgical and catheter-based treatments for heart rhythm problems, including:
- Ablations: Using the tip of a small catheter and heat (radiofrequency) or extreme cold (cryoablation), your cardiologist scars the heart tissue responsible for sending erratic electrical signals. We offer the latest ablation procedures for difficult-to-treat arrhythmias, such as complex ventricular tachycardia.
- Maze procedures: Your doctor makes tiny incisions in a maze pattern on heart tissue. Scar tissue that forms around these incisions redirects the heart’s electrical signals.
- Pacemakers: We offer Micra™, the world’s smallest, wire-free pacemaker, as well as MRI-compatible pacemakers. We’re also experts in cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) using biventricular pacemakers. This device keeps the right and left ventricles pumping together.
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD): ICDs work similar to pacemakers to restore a normal heartbeat. We offer a wireless subcutaneous (under-the-skin) ICD known as S-ICD.
- WATCHMAN™ device: People who have arrhythmias are prone to developing blood clots in the heart’s left atrial appendage (LAA). WATCHMAN seals off the LAA, preventing clots from entering the bloodstream. This device reduces stroke risk and can be an alternative for patients who can’t take blood thinners.
- Medication management: Some heart rhythm problems improve with medications that control heart rhythm or heart rate. You also may need blood thinners to lower stroke risk. Lehigh Valley Heart Institute’s Comprehensive Heart Rhythm Management Program offers ongoing care and monitoring for people with heart rhythm devices like pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).
- Lead extractions: When necessary, our doctors use laser energy to surgically remove problematic leads, or wires, from pacemakers and ICDs. These wires may need to be replaced due to damage, recall, blockage or infection.