Abnormal heart rhythms can affect your health. Do you know the signs?
Each beat of your heart begins with a series of electrical impulses. These signals tell the heart muscle when to contract and when to relax, pushing blood into your arteries and keeping you alive.
When signals are disrupted or abnormal, an arrhythmia — an issue with the rhythm of your heart that affects its ability to efficiently pump blood — can result. An arrhythmia can cause your heart to beat too fast or too slow, skip beats, or take additional beats.
Increasing Your Risk for Stroke
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of arrhythmia that increases a person’s risk for stroke. Individuals with AFib may notice a fluttering in the chest and/or fatigue, although many do not experience symptoms.
“Our primary goal when treating AFib is preventing stroke,” says Sameh Lamiy, MD, electrophysiologist with KentuckyOne Health Cardiology Associates in Lexington. “AFib symptoms may be uncomfortable, but having a stroke can be crippling. We use medications to control heart rhythm and rate, and blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.”
Getting Back on Beat
If medications don’t manage an arrhythmia effectively, physicians may recommend a procedure, such as a pacemaker implantation (device to maintain heart rate) or ablation (use of heat or cold to destroy the area causing the heart rhythm problem). Regardless of the problem, the first step is to seek medical advice.
“Heart rhythm disorders can range from benign conditions to life-threatening problems,” said Rakesh Gopinathannair, MD, director of cardiac electrophysiology at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health. “If you have symptoms, have a heart rhythm specialist take a look. Simple tests can figure out if we need to intervene.”
Watch the video below to learn more about treating AFib.
Alternative to Blood Thinners for Patients with AFib
Now available at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, the WATCHMAN™ device may eliminate the need for long-term use of blood thinners for some patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AFib).
“This is a therapy revolution for stroke prevention in these patients,” said Dr. Gopinathannair. “If you have been told you need to take blood thinners for the rest of your life because of AFib, this could be a great alternative.”
Call Jewish Hospital Heart Rhythm Care at 844.297.8981 to find out more information about the WATCHMAN procedure.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of One Health magazine. Receive more health and wellness news and information by signing up for your free subscription to One Health.