Heart arrhythmias can result in a feeling of the heart racing or beating irregularly (palpitations) and can sometimes result in dizziness or fainting (syncope). More serious complications may also occur. Broadly, heart arrhythmias are classified according to where they originate, fro example the top of the heart (atrium), middle (AV node) or main chambers (ventricles). The implications and treatments of the different from of arrhythmia are very different.
Arial fibrillation results from uncoordinated electrical activity of the upper, atrial chamber of the heart. It is the most common arrhythmia and increases in prevalence with age. Other conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and thyroid dysfunction may also increase the risk of atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation may result in the heart beating too fast. It is also associated with a increased risk of stroke. Many treatments for atrial fibrillation exist, and treatment must be tailored to the individual.
In addition to medical (tablet) treatment, atrial fibrillation may sometimes be treated with an ablation procedure. This procedure uses catheters passed into the heart to target the areas and pathways responsible for atrial fibrillation.
In order to reduce the risk of stroke anticoagulation with warfarin or newer medications is sometimes recommended. In cases where blood thinning medication are contra-indication a new procedure called left atrial occlusion may be performed. This procedure blocks off the major source of stroke in the heart.
All atrial fibrillation procedures are performed with careful pre-procedure imaging with cardiac CT and MRI. Intra-procedure guidance with three-dimensional transoesophageal echocardiography is frequently helpful.
New South Wales Cardiology are recognised authorities in cardiac imaging and work closely with leading interventional experts at St Vincent’s hospital for provision of all services.
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