Arrhythmia treatments in Virginia
For more than a decade, HCA Virginia's physicians and hospital teams have worked tirelessly to build the region’s premier cardiac care centers. We take care of your valves, veins and arteries to ensure your heart health. As part of that care, our electrophysiologists diagnose and treat arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), using advanced technology to resolve your irregular heartbeat.
For more information about our arrhythmia services or for help finding a specialist, call our free, 24/7 Consult-A-Nurse® line.
Types of cardiac arrhythmias
Electrical signals to the heart coordinate your heartbeats. When your heart's electrical system does not function properly, your heart rhythm becomes too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia) or irregular. This can lead to dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath and even a heart attack or cerebrovascular accident (stroke). It may also signal underlying heart disease.
Types of arrhythmias include:
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
- Atrial flutter
- Premature atrial contractions
- Premature ventricular complex (PVC)
- Supraventricular arrhythmias
- Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) or paroxysmal SVT
- Sick sinus syndrome
- Ventricular tachycardia
- Ventricular fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
AFib is the most common heart arrhythmia. It may be caused by environmental, behavioral or genetic factors. It is often found in patients with atherosclerosis, angina (chest pain), hypertension and lung problems.
AFib is also commonly associated with conditions such as heart failure. If left untreated, it can become permanent over time, increasing your odds of more serious, life-threatening issues. This is, in part, because AFib can cause blood to pool and form clots in the heart's left atrial appendage, significantly increasing the risk of having a stroke. As a result, patients experiencing this heart condition may need to take warfarin (blood thinning medication) long-term.
Symptoms of heart arrhythmia
Patients with arrhythmias typically experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty exercising
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
- Fatigue or weakness
- Irregular pulse or heartbeat (fast or slow)
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Palpitations (fluttering) or a pounding feeling in the chest
- Racing feeling in the chest
- Shortness of breath
Diagnosing heart arrhythmias
Electrophysiology (EP) is the cardiac specialty that studies the heart's electrical system. The skilled electrophysiologists in our EP labs conduct imaging exams and diagnostic tests to determine the source of the arrhythmia. They can then determine the right approach and procedures to help steady the rhythm of your heartbeat.
Treatments for heart rhythm disorders
Often, heart arrhythmias can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes. When more intervention is needed, our experienced cardiac and electrophysiology specialists will determine the best treatment or combination of treatments for your specific needs, which may include:
- Cardiac ablation
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implantation
- Pacemaker implantation
Convergent (or hybrid) maze
The maze procedure is named after the maze-like set of incisions made on the left and right atria. It is a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure that creates scar lines (lesions) on the epicardium (the outside of the heart). However, it does not compromise the pericardium (the membrane sac enclosing the heart and other major surrounding vessels). The lesions work to divert the abnormal electrical impulses in the heart, isolating them and allowing the heart to return to its normal beating pattern.
Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) for non-valvular AFib
The LAAC implant is a minimally invasive treatment alternative for non-valvular AFib. It closes off the left atrial appendage (believed to be the primary source of stroke-causing clots in patients with this condition). This keeps harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream. For this reason, LAAC may enable you to discontinue warfarin and considerably reduce your AFib-related stroke risk.