Heart arrhythmias are disruptions in a regular heart rhythm, which can include slow, irregular or fast heart beats. They occur when the electrical impulses to the heart stray from their normal sequence and can range from being harmless to life-threatening.
Heart rhythm care in Largo, Florida
When you have symptoms of a heart rhythm disorder or develop a concern with your heartbeat, we can help.
HCA Florida Largo Hospital's electrophysiologists diagnose and treat irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias). They work closely with our cardiovascular surgeons and the rest of our team at our AFib and Heart Rhythm Center. Once they have diagnosed your condition, they offer you personalized treatments and procedures to treat your arrhythmia.
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Our heart arrhythmia treatments and services
We offer a full range of procedures to diagnose, prevent and correct arrhythmias. Some of these services include:
Diagnosing a heart arrhythmia
We offer advanced heart screening and imaging services, which allow our cardiologists to determine if you have an arrhythmia and are in need of treatment. We also use electrophysiology (EP) studies to help us identify the cause of your arrhythmia.
EP studies for irregular heartbeats
During an EP study, electrical signals are sent through a catheter, triggering your heart to beat at different speeds. Your electrophysiologist watches the video monitor during the procedure and uses the forced signals to trace the origin of the irregular heartbeat. Knowing the location of the irregularity helps us determine the most effective treatment option for you.
Correcting heart arrhythmias
We offer a full range of treatments and procedures to correct and prevent arrhythmias. Some of these treatments include:
- Cardioversion: During this procedure, an electric shock is delivered to the chest through electrodes or paddles to correct a heart rhythm.
- Cryoablation: This catheter procedure is a type of cardiac ablation using extremely cold temperatures to freeze and destroy defective tissue, restoring a normal heart rhythm.
- Defibrillator implantation: This procedure implants devices which correct arrhythmias and can even help the heart begin beating again if it stops.
- Medications: Prescribed medications, such as blood thinners, can help with irregular heartbeats.
A pacemaker helps regulate your heart rhythm by keeping your heart contracting and pumping blood. It is a small device (about the size of a matchbox) placed under the skin of your chest just below the collarbone. The pacemaker runs on batteries and sends out electrical impulses to keep the heart beating at its proper speed.
The pacemaker is constantly sensing your heartbeat. It paces your heart only when it has waited a certain amount of time and no heartbeats have occurred.
Understanding common arrhythmias
We are committed to helping you achieve your greatest heart health. Part of reaching that goal includes education about how your heart works and what an arrhythmia is.
What an arrhythmia is
To understand arrhythmias, we first must explain the heart's electrical system. The body naturally produces electricity, which travels over the heart muscle and stimulates the heart to contract, or beat. When the heart's electrical system malfunctions, it can result in irregular heartbeats by causing the heart to beat too slowly or too quickly.
Arrhythmias can signal an underlying heart disease or lead to heart failure. They can also lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Symptoms of a cardiac arrhythmia
Some arrhythmias may occur without any symptoms. Others, such as AFib, may cause noticeable symptoms, including:
- Chest pain (angina)
- Dizziness or sensation of lightheadedness
- Sensation of a missed or extra heartbeat
- Sensation of your heart fluttering (palpitations)
- Shortness of breath
Types of heart arrhythmias
There are various kinds of arrhythmias:
- Heartbeats that are too slow (bradycardia)
- Heartbeats that are too fast (tachycardia)
- Extra heartbeats
- Skipped heartbeats
- Heartbeats coming from abnormal areas of the heart
AFib is the most common type of arrhythmia, and it tends to occur most frequently in older people and those with heart disease.
With AFib, the electrical impulses in your heart that begin in the atria, or upper chambers of your heart, are erratic. This causes a rapid and irregular heartbeat, which affects the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently to the rest of the body.
Less blood being pumped to the body, including your brain, can lead to blood clots or even a cerebrovascular accident (stroke). In fact, AFib is the primary cause of stroke, so it's important you get diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible.
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