It's something we all take for granted: The regular rhythm of our heart day in and day out. It slows down when we're resting and speeds up when we exercise but it's still predictable — unless it isn't.
Cardiac arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms that occur when there are problems with the electric impulses that go through your heart. While atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia, affects between 2.7 million and 6.1 million people in the United States, those affected are at least 10 to 12 years younger in India, according to one 2016 report published by the Association of Physicians of India. Typically, cardiac arrhythmia impacts people regardless of age, though the risk of atrial fibrillation (a specific cardiac arrhythmia) increases with age.
Fortunately, developments in modern technology have made the condition much easier to live with. Arrhythmia treatment helps people extend their lifespan and take part in meaningful activities.
Don't let arrhythmia symptoms slow you down
Treatment options for a cardiac arrhythmia depend on the type of arrhythmia occurring. Symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, loss of energy, chest pain, shortness of breath and many others. The symptoms can affect a patient's daily life and may also lead to potential complications.
Through developments in modern technology, effective treatments are thankfully available to help manage arrhythmia and its symptoms, enabling individuals to do the things they love.
Arrhythmia treatment options
It's important to discuss your individual circumstances and arrhythmia with your physician but in general, there are three treatment approaches for cardiac arrhythmia.
- Medications have the benefit of being non-invasive and your doctor can adjust the dosage as needed. While medication may not cure arrhythmia, it will certainly help manage the condition. Medications may be prescribed in conjunction with another method of treating the heart's abnormal rhythm.
- A cardiac ablation can abolish abnormal electrical impulses in the heart, thus making the heart beat correctly. These procedures are minimally invasive and involve inserting a catheter into the body through the major blood vessels in the leg. With ablation therapy, data about the abnormal heart rhythm is gathered in a procedure called mapping. New technology makes this information-gathering or mapping process more accurate than ever. Sophisticated mapping systems provide doctors with real-time information and collect information on the electrical impulses of your heart, making the procedure more precise than ever.
- If medicine and ablation are not options for you or are ineffective in controlling arrhythmia, you may require a pacemaker to reduce your symptoms. Pacemaker technology is constantly evolving and today's pacemakers are a far cry from what was first introduced for patients. For example, newer pacemakers are quite small and can wirelessly send information about the heart's rhythm directly to your doctor. You may also receive MRI imaging if/when needed.
The main goal of any arrhythmia treatment is to restore quality of life. In most people, heart-healthy exercise and increasing their activity are important parts of staying well after a procedure. Patients are also encouraged to eat a healthy diet, stay connected with loved ones and attend regular follow-ups with their doctor.
Through today's technology, patients have options to address the symptoms of arrhythmia so they can get back to living their best lives.
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