Arrhythmia treatment and electrophysiology in Plantation
The cardiology team at Westside Regional Medical Center specializes treating heart arrhythmia and heartbeat irregularity conditions. Our Electrophysiology Lab, one of the most frequented in Broward County, provides advanced diagnostic services and multiple modalities to treat—and even cure—atrial fibrillation.
To learn more about our electrophysiology program or cardiovascular services, please call our Consult-A-Nurse team at (954) 370-5585.
What is atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation, or Afib, is the most common heart rhythm disorder and is caused by rapid and erratic electrical signals that disrupt blood flow in the upper chambers of the heart (the atria). The lower two chambers are called the ventricles.
A standard heartbeat occurs when an electrical signal in the atria is followed by an electrical signal in the ventricles. Ordinarily, the atria pulses about 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM). Afib occurs when the atria quivers and pulses at about 500 BPM.
At this rate, the heart cannot steadily pump blood. The result is a very irregular, rapid heartbeat in many patients.
Less blood in the heart means there will be less blood pumped out to the body. This can also cause blood to become trapped and pool in the upper heart. Decreased blood flow in the body, including the brain, can also lead to blood clots or a stroke.
Causes of Afib
Atrial fibrillation is often caused by an existing heart condition, such as high blood pressure or a leaky heart, which stretches one of or both upper two chambers of the heart. When those chambers are subject to stress or are stretched, they can start to quiver, resulting in atrial fibrillation.
Afib can occur in people with no other heart problems. The patients who experience Afib with no obvious identifiable cause for the condition are called “lone atrial fibrillators.”
Symptoms of Afib include:
- Irregular/rapid pulse or heart beat
- Racing feeling in the chest
- Palpitations or a pounding feeling in the chest
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue or weakness
- Difficulty exercising
Cardiac electrophysiology is the study of the heart’s electrical system. An EP study is any procedure that requires the insertion of an electrode catheter into the heart.
The heart’s electrical system transmits signals throughout the heart that keep it pumping at a healthy pace and also controls the rhythmic contractions that keep the blood pumping and circulating throughout your body.
During an EP study, your physician inserts a catheter into your arm, wrist or groin and guides it to your heart. Electrical pulses are sent through the catheter to trigger possible abnormal heartbeats. Your EP doctor then measures your heart's signals to identify the source of potentially serious arrhythmias. Next, your doctor determines which medicines or procedures may work best to treat the arrhythmias and verifies your risk for other heart problems.
Afib treatment options
Westside Regional offers a wide range of options to treat atrial fibrillation. Our experienced cardiac and EP physicians will determine the best treatment path for your specific needs. These may include:
- Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise may reduce the frequency, duration and severity of atrial fibrillation episodes.
- Medications: Medications that control the heart rate or heart rhythm are prescribed along with blood thinners to reduce the likelihood of strokes.
- Cardioversion: Cardioversion is the delivery of an electric shock to the chest through electrodes or paddles. The shock is given to correct a dangerous heart rhythm. Cardioversion can be done as an elective (scheduled) procedure or may be done urgently if an abnormal heartbeat is immediately life-threatening.
- Catheter ablation: The purpose of a catheter ablation is to eliminate areas of the heart that are generating abnormal heart rhythms. An electrophysiologist will guide an ablating catheter to the site(s), which treats defective tissue by emitting painless electromagnetic energy to ablate (destroy) the defective areas.
- Cryoablation: Cryoablation is a catheter ablation procedure that uses very cold temperatures to freeze the defective tissue, thereby restoring a standard heart rhythm.
- Pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD): A pacemaker is generally implanted under the collarbone to regulate your heart beat by electrical wire leads threaded through the veins, chest, and then to the heart. An ICD is implanted into the chest to monitor the heart rate and, if necessary, deliver electrical therapy to restore normal rhythm.