Alternate Names : Irregular Heartbeat
What are the treatments for the condition?
Different treatments are available, depending on the type of arrhythmia being
treated. Medications such as
amiodarone, procainamide, and
propranolol can be used to control
the rate or restore the rhythm of the heart.
Calcium channel blockers, such as
verapamil, have been used over 20 years. However, findings of two recent
studies show that people who take a calcium channel blocker have a much
higher incidence of complications than people taking other medications for
heart disease. One study, for example, found that the risk of heart attack was 27% greater, and the risk
of congestive heart failure was 26%
higher. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals discuss
risks and benefits of the medication with the healthcare provider.
A pacemaker may be inserted to control
an arrhythmia or speed up a heart that is beating too slowly. Certain types of
implantable pacemakers called cardiac defibrillators can sense a
life-threatening arrhythmia and send an electrical shock to the heart. Often a
person's life can be saved this way without a trip to the hospital.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
The side effects of treatment for arrhythmias vary according to the medications
used, but include allergic reactions.
Calcium channel blockers can cause swelling
of the legs, as well as a higher risk of heart attack and congestive
Implanting a pacemaker is a minor surgical procedure, with some risk
of infection, bleeding, and allergic
reaction to the anesthesia.
What happens after treatment for the condition?
Unless a severe or life-threatening arrhythmia is present, a person can
generally resume normal activities once treatment is successful. Most
individuals with a treated arrhythmia are encouraged to begin a regular
exercise program. The person should make every effort to reduce coronary risk factors. This may include
smoking cessation, control of other
diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and eating a healthy
diet to minimize heart disease. Medications
may need to be adjusted to achieve the best response.
How is the condition monitored?
A person with an arrhythmia will have regular visits with the healthcare
provider. The provider will monitor the effectiveness of medications, and
evaluate the need for a pacemaker. Any new or worsening symptoms
should be reported to the healthcare provider.