Arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm)

An arrhythmia is a problem with the rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slowly, or with an irregular rhythm. When a heart beats too fast, the condition is called tachycardia. When a heart beats too slowly, the condition is called bradycardia.

The most common irregular heart rhythm is the atrial fibrillation. In atrial fibrillation, the heart rate is irregular and can sometimes be very fast. In some cases, it can be considerably higher than 100 beats a minute. This can cause problems including dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness. People may be aware of noticeable heart palpitations, where the heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly, often for a few seconds or, in some cases, a few minutes. Sometimes atrial fibrillation does not cause any symptoms and a person who has it is completely unaware that their heart rate is irregular. The main problem of atrial fibrillation and other irregular heart rhythms is that they increase the risk of stroke, that’s the reason why anticoagulation (warfarin, a blood thinner) is often required.

The arrhythmia can be treated pharmacologically (with tablets). But when this strategy fails, then a surgical approach may be necessary. There are in fact few techniques for ablation, in which the heart cells responsible of generating the abnormal heart rhythm are destroyed. Sometimes patients requiring open heart surgery have irregular heart rhythm, caused by their valvular disease (like mitral regurgitation or aortic valve stenosis and other), in which cases a combined operations to repair or replace the diseased valve and atrial fibrillation ablation are very effective in treating the underlying disease and restore the normal regular heart rhythm. Mr Alberto Albanese has a good experience in atrial fibrillation ablation, he has attended several international training courses.

Arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm) dr Alberto Albanese Consultant Cardiac Surgeon International Heart Clinic