Is it time to see a heart rhythm specialist?
A problem with your heart’s rhythm is called an arrhythmia (uh-RITH-mee-uh). If your heart beats too quickly, this is called tachycardia, which can be harmless. In some cases, if an irregular rhythm is coming from the bottom part of your heart, it may be ventricular tachycardia (ven-TRI-kyuh-lar tack-uh-CARD-ee-uh), or VT.
A healthy heart normally beats about 60 to 100 times a minute while you are at rest. VT makes the heart beat faster – about 100 or more beats a minute. This kind of fast heartbeat can keep your heart from moving blood to the body as it should. It can make you feel breathless or dizzy. You might even faint. VT is caused by a problem with the electrical signals in the lower chambers of the heart.
VT episodes can be very short, and these short episodes cause no harm. Longer VT episodes (sustained VT) can be dangerous. It is important to treat VT, because a fast heartbeat can lead to dizziness or fainting. It can also lead to a possibly life-threatening condition called ventricular fibrillation, or even cause the heart to stop.
Treatment for ventricular tachycardia may include a catheter ablation. This is a minimally invasive medical procedure that uses cold or heat energy to make tiny scars in the heart to block electrical signals that cause a rapid heartbeat. The goal of VT ablation is to make the heart beat the way it should.
Your doctor may try medications to treat ventricular tachycardia. These medications are called anti-arrhythmics. They can be given in a pill form or by a needle in your arm that slowly drips medicine into your body. Other medicines may also be used, alone or with anti-arrythmics. Calcium channel blockers and beta blockers are two commonly used drugs for VT. Estos fármacos ralentizan la frecuencia cardíaca y reducen la presión arterial.
Some VT can be treated with medication, but a ventricular ablation medical procedure might be right for you. You will talk to an electrophysiologist (eh-LEK-troh-fi-zee-AHLL-uh-juhst), who has an expertise in understanding your heart’s electrical signals.
Before recommending ablation, your cardiologist will check:
Your doctor may also take into consideration your age.
If you have a device that sends electrical signals to your heart to get it to beat correctly, called an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, ablation can reduce the number of times signals are needed.
The ablation procedure typically has a higher success rate than medication alone, which means symptoms are less likely to return. There is a low risk of complications with this procedure, as well as a quickrecovery time.
Treatment for VT involves managing any diseases that causes the condition, as well as the symptoms of VT. Common treatments for VT include:
One of the most common non-invasive treatments for VT is called a catheter ablation (KATH-i-tur ah-BLAY-shun). A catheter is a thin flexible tube. It travels through a blood vessel in your groin up to your heart. The procedure uses hot or cold energy to create scars in your heart tissue where the arrhythmia is occurring. The scars help block certain electrical impulses and prevent irregular rhythms. The scars only destroy tissue involved with the targeted heart patterns, and they don’t cause any lasting pain.
In most cases, catheter ablations are done in an electrophysiology lab at a hospital, and it can take approximately one to three hours for the procedure. A veces puede tomar más tiempo.
Norton Heart & Vascular Institute has two state-of-the-art electrophysiology labs where catheter ablations are performed, located in Norton Audubon Hospital and Norton Hospital. We use 3D imaging to map your heart and identify the spot of tissue that’s causing theabnormal heartbeat. Luego, realizamos procedimientos de ablación mínimamente invasivos para tratar el problema.
Your health care provider will go over what you need to do before a catheter ablation. Always follow your provider’s guidance and do not stop or start taking medications unless you are told to do so. You may be asked to stop blood-thinning medications like aspirin or warfarin. You will also be asked to stop eating and drinking for several hours before your procedure. Your provider will give you exact instructions.
Before the procedure, arrange for a trusted friend or family member to take you home after the procedure.
A nurse will help get you ready for an ablation by putting an IV line into your arm. You can receive medicine through the IV line, including drugs to make you comfortable and keep you from feeling any pain (this is also called anesthesia – an-uhs-THEE-zyuh). You may be awake during the procedure, but you’ll be sedated and you will not feel pain.
Your electrophysiologist will:
You will stay in the hospital for several hours after the procedure. Your doctor may have you stay the night.
Many patients wonder if catheter ablation hurts. Most people say catheter ablation is mildly uncomfortable but the discomfort doesn’t last long. Some patients also have little or no discomfort from the ablation. The place where the catheter went into your vein may be sore and have a bruise. The opening for the catheter is very small and should heal quickly.
Your heart will heal and recover in time. For a little while – usually a few weeks – you may still feel irregular heart rhythms and experience more tiredness than you are used to. Esto es normal. Tell your physician if you have any questions or concerns after an ablation.
You should begin to notice a decrease inabnormal heartbeats after the ablation. You will need to visit the doctor for some follow-ups to be sure you are recovering. Most people see improvements in their quality of life after VT ablation, including feeling less tired or needing fewer signals from their implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. If your abnormal heart rhythm does not stop or stops and starts again, you may need a repeat procedure or alternate treatment.
Before the procedure, a doctor will find out exactly where the arrhythmia is in your heart. The electrophysiologist will do a study to know which tissue is causing the arrhythmia. Once the area of the arrhythmia is known, the doctor will create a more precise electrical map of your heart with a 3D mapping system. This map gives the doctor an electrical view of your heart and tells the cardiologist where to position the catheter wires for the procedure. Norton Healthcare is one of the only health systems in the area that offers this advanced 3D mapping technology.
During the VT ablation, sensors on the tip of the catheter send electrical impulses and record the heart’s electricity. Your health care team will use this information to determine the best place to apply the VT ablation treatment.
There are two types of ablation:
Either type of ablation can be done from inside or outside the heart. Sometimes, treatment is done at both locations.
The benefits of catheter ablation include:
Possible risks include:
Your physician will talk to you about all these issues, as well as any concerns or questions you have.
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