Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart rate is abnormal. Causes of irregular heartbeat include high blood pressure, imbalance of electrolytes in the blood, injury caused due to heart attack, valve disorder, or coronary artery disease. Atrial fibrillation is a common type of irregular heartbeat. The heart rhythms are irregular, disorganized, and rapid in atrial fibrillation. The atrial flutter is another type of irregular heartbeat. A flutter is an irregularity that is comparatively more regular and organized than atrial fibrillation.
An atrial fibrillation may last from a few seconds to a week and even longer. Doctors detect an irregular heartbeat by taking the pulse and performing diagnostic tests. Symptoms of irregular heartbeat may include palpitations, flutter, discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath, or weakness. Treatment of irregular heartbeat can vary based on the causes, types, and kinds of arrhythmia.
Lifestyle changes can help in the treatment of an irregular heartbeat. Lifestyle changes largely reduce the risks and causes of irregular heartbeat. Limiting the consumption of alcohol and caffeine are good treatment options. Changes in lifestyle can limit the causes associated with irregular heartbeat. One should quit smoking to avoid complications as it is among the leading causes of heart problems.
Anti-arrhythmic medications are effective in the treatment of irregular heartbeat. These may not completely cure the disease, but they can significantly reduce the causes. They are beneficial in slowing down the heart rate when an atrial fibrillation episode occurs. Doctors usually prescribe blood thinners to patients suffering from flutter, palpitation, erratic pulse and other symptoms of atrial fibrillation. The medicines used for the treatment of arrhythmia include rivaroxaban, warfarin, and dabigatran. Patients with atrial fibrillation may not achieve normal heart rate with drug therapy. In that case, electrical cardioversion may be used to control irregular heartbeat in atrial fibrillation. The FDA has not recommended dabigatran for patients of atrial fibrillation.
A pacemaker is a small device used for the treatment of slow heartbeat. A pacemaker can be helpful for patients suffering from sinus node disease or heart blocks. It is implanted under the skin in the upper part of the chest. The pacemaker sends electrical signals to the heart and stimulates it to beat at a steady rate, correcting flutters and palpitations. This treatment reduces pain in the chest area causing heart problems.
Heart surgery may be needed if medication and other treatment methods cannot control irregular heartbeat and its related causes. Heart surgery is also recommended for the treatment of other heart diseases. Atrial fibrillation can be treated with two types of surgeries viz. Maze and modified Maze procedure. Doctors diagnose the best treatment options out of all nonsurgical and surgical treatment types.
Catheter ablation therapy is used for treating atrial fibrillation. One or more catheters are positioned through the blood vessels in the heart’s impacted parts, which are detected as the sources of irregular heartbeat. The catheter tips are either heated or cooled to block the pathway that causes arrhythmia. This method usually stops the problem of irregular heartbeat. Studying and blocking the causes of arrhythmia is the process used in this treatment method.
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