Many heart rhythm disorders begin appearing as people grow older. Some irregular heart rhythms are harmless. Others may lead to serious problems including heart attack, stroke, organ failure or even death.
An electrophysiologist, a cardiologist specializing in heart rhythm disorders, may be needed to determine the best treatment option for an individual. Often, lifestyle changes or medications are effective treatment for heart rhythm conditions. Another option, cardiac ablation, is a procedure which often cures abnormal heart rhythms, and may be recommended to correct the misfiring electrical impulses in the heart.
Some arrhythmias can be cured with ablation; some arrhythmias can be controlled but may need more than one treatment over time.
>95% free of supravenricular tachycardia, one kind of heart rhythm problem, following ablation.
Insert ablation catheter
Long, flexible wires are threaded through a blood vessel to the heart.
Detect electrical signals
An electrophysiology study pinpoints the exact location of abnormal electrical impulses.
Scar or destroy abnormal tissue with heat or cold
An electrophysiologist with special training in heart rhythm disorder aims the tip of the wire to the abnormal heart tissue, directing energy to fix the tissue causing the rhythm problem. Cardiac ablation uses heat (radiofrequency or microwave ablation) or cold (cryoablation) depending on the arrhythmia.
Produced by Mayo Clinic. Sources: mayoclinic.org; mayoclinicproceedings.org; ncbi.nlm.nih.gov; heart.org
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