Heart rhythm disorders, also known as cardiac arrhythmia, are abnormal heartbeats that cause the heart to beat too fast (tachycardias), too slow (bradycardias) or irregularly. These disorders are caused by a problem with the heart’s electrical system, which stimulates the heart to squeeze and relax. Although cardiac arrhythmias sometimes occur in a healthy heart and have minimal consequences, they can also be a sign of a more serious problem. Underlying cardiovascular conditions can result in complications, such as stroke or sudden cardiac death—the leading cause of death in the United States.
There are a number of factors that may contribute to the development of heart rhythm disorders, including:
A patient with an arrhythmia may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
The symptoms of arrhythmia may resemble other conditions. Consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Our cardiac arrhythmia specialists provide expert evaluation and diagnosis with the aid of the latest in advanced imaging technologies. Along with a careful physical examination, the cardiologist may order one or more of the following tests or procedures:
It is important to treat an arrhythmia because the condition can worsen over time as the heart muscles become overworked and weak, making it even more difficult for the heart to function properly. Specialists in our Cardiac Arrhythmia Service develop individualized treatment plans for patients based on:
Treatment may involve a number of medical, surgical and interventional options.
Lifestyle modifications can include reducing stress and eliminating alcohol and caffeine.
Medication may be administered, the type of which will depend on the type of arrhythmia, the presence of other conditions and whether the patient is taking any other drugs
Interventional and surgical options include:
We often see patients who have been told there’s nothing that can be done, or they aren’t good candidates for interventions. We pride ourselves in finding the right treatment plan based on each patient’s unique needs and health and having the diagnostic and clinical expertise to provide the right care for the right patient at the right time. Call 857-307-6048 or request a virtual visit to speak with one of our clinicians.
It can be. Atrial fibrillation that is inherited is called familial atrial fibrillation. Brigham and Women’s Heart and Vascular Genetics Program is on the forefront of research into the molecular basis for genetic cardiac disease and applying that knowledge to the clinical setting, enhancing the care of patients and their families.
If you have a relative who has been diagnosed with Afib and are concerned about your risks, talk with your doctor or make an appointment. We offer comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis, and management of those with inherited cardiac disorders and specialize in managing the following conditions:
The Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at the Brigham and Women's Heart & Vascular Center is known worldwide for its expertise in evaluating and treating heart rhythm disorders. Our physicians have long been innovators in the field, from being the first to use direct current cardioversion to restore normal heart rhythm in 1962 to being one of only three centers in the U.S. today to use needle catheter ablations to reach within the thickness of the heart wall and unique stereotactic radio ablation protocol to treat arrhythmias.
Our team in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service includes some of the world's most experienced physicians in cardiac electrophysiology, who specialize in treating a full range of patients, including those with the most complex medical concerns. Our specially trained team performs more than 3,000 procedures annually, including catheter ablation, implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), pacemaker implantation and cardiac resynchronization, which translates to better outcomes for patients.
Our team of specialists are seeing patients with in-person office visits and virtual visits. For initial consults, second opinions, treatment planning and follow-up care, you can receive individualized, expert cardiac care from the comfort of your home.
The Heart & Vascular Center offers the following for our patients:
The Heart & Vascular Center is located in the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, across the street from our main 75 Francis St. entrance. The center brings together the full range of services in one location, fostering seamless and coordinated care for all cardiovascular patients.
If you are having surgery or a procedure, you will likely be scheduled for a visit to the Watkins Clinic for pre-operative information and tests.
The day of surgery, your care will be provided by surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses who specialize in surgery for patients with CHD. After surgery, you will go to the post-surgical care unit where you will receive comprehensive care from an experienced surgical and nursing staff.
During your surgery, family and friends can wait in the Shapiro Family Center. Staff members will provide surgery updates and caregivers who leave the hospital will be contacted by cell phone.
For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.