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Rhythm Disorders (Irregular Heartbeat/Arrhythmia)

What Is a Heart Rhythm Disorder?

If you have a heart rhythm disorder, your heartbeat is unsteady. A normal, healthy heart beats 60 to 100 times per minute, but rhythm disorders can cause your heart to beat slower, faster or in an irregular pattern. This is why heart rhythm disorders are commonly referred to as an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia. 

There are several types of rhythm disorders, including:

  • Atrial fibrillation (Afib) – a rapid heartbeat that begins in the atria (the upper chambers) of the heart
  • Bradycardia – a slow heartbeat at less than 55 times per minute
  • Ventricular tachycardia – a rapid heartbeat that begins in the ventricles of the heart

The heart specialists at Banner Health will diagnose your heart rhythm disorder and develop a treatment plan to fit your needs. 

What Are the Symptoms of an Irregular Heartbeat?

Heart rhythm disorder symptoms can include an irregular heartbeat. An irregular heartbeat means your heart isn’t beating as it should. This could feel like your heart is beating too fast or “racing” or like it’s beating too slow or skipping a beat. It can cause chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

What Causes an Irregular Heartbeat?

There are many reasons you may have an irregular heartbeat. Some common reasons are:

These conditions do not always lead to a rhythm disorder. If you have experienced any of these conditions and are concerned that you may have an irregular or abnormal heartbeat, consult your doctor.

How Is an Irregular Heartbeat Diagnosed?

Our skilled heart specialists can diagnose and treat heart rhythm disorders to help keep your heart beating as it should.

Banner Health uses a full range of diagnostic tests to determine if a rhythm disorder is the cause of your symptoms. Those tests may include:

  • Angiography
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrophysiologic study
  • Exercise stress test
  • Nuclear imaging test

What Is the Treatment for an Irregular Heartbeat?

In some cases, a conservative approach is the right option for heart rhythm disorder treatment. Medicine may be enough to control your heart rhythm. In other cases, surgery may be necessary.

Banner Health offers minimally invasive treatment options, such as:

  • Cardioversion – a procedure to restore your heart’s normal rhythm
  • Heart ablation – a procedure to destroy small areas of heart tissue that may be causing your irregular heartbeat
  • Pulsed field ablation – a catheter device used during an ablation procedure that targets specific areas of the heart to treat intermittent atrial fibrillation without the usual extreme temperatures and reducing the risk of complications. 
  • Stereotaxis Genesis system – a system used during more complex heart rhythm ablation procedures that guides a small catheter into the heart to target very precise areas using magnets and robotic guidance to fix heart rhythm abnormalities.  
  • MAZE procedure – a procedure to create scar tissue to interrupt the electrical impulses that may be causing your irregular heartbeat

If your rhythm disorder requires something more in-depth, our experts may recommend a surgical treatment like:

  • Defibrillator implant
  • Lead extraction
  • Pacemaker implant

The type of rhythm disorder you or your loved one has will help determine the best treatment plan. Our main goal is to always provide you with the most customized care for your specific needs.

How Do I Prevent an Irregular Heartbeat?

Lowering your risk factors for heart disease are key in reducing your risk of experiencing an irregular heartbeat.

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
  • Limit your use of alcohol or caffeine
  • Don’t smoke or do drugs
  • Lower your stress level