Arrhythmia Workup and Management in New York
Arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart beats with an irregular or abnormal rhythm. Heart arrhythmias occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeats don’t work properly. This causes your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly. This is usually manifest as palpitations, “skipped beats”, dizziness, or fainting.
Many arrhythmias are considered harmless and are left untreated, often causing only nuisance symptoms. However, there are three main reasons to evaluate and treat arrhythmias: to eliminate symptoms, prevent death due to a life threatening arrhythmia, and to reduce the other possible risks and complications that can be caused by arrhythmias.
Arrhythmia Workup NYC
To diagnose arrhythmias, your doctor will look at your medical history, evaluate your symptoms, and perform a physical examination. Your doctor may test you for conditions that could trigger your arrhythmia, such as underlying structural heart disease or a problem with your thyroid gland function. Heart-monitoring tests specific to arrhythmias may be performed as well. These include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) – Measures the timing and duration of each electrical phase in your heartbeat with sensors that can detect the electrical activity of your heart.
- Holter Monitor – ECG device that records your heart’s activity, for a day or more, as you go about your daily routine.
- Event Monitor – ECG device used to attach to your body to press a button if you experience symptoms of a sporadic arrhythmia. This lets your doctor check your heart rhythm at the time of your symptoms.
- Echocardiogram – A device placed on your chest using sound waves to produce images of your heart’s size, structure and motion. This will tell your doctor if your heart is structurally normal.
If abnormalities are not found during those tests, your doctor may try to trigger your arrhythmia with other tests including:
- Stress Test – Some arrhythmias are triggered or worsened by exercise. You’ll be asked to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike while your heart activity is monitored.
- Tilt Table Test – Your heart rate and blood pressure are monitored while you lie flat on a table. The table is then tilted, as if you were standing up, and your doctor will observe how your heart and the nervous system that controls it respond to the change in angle. This test is recommended if you have had previous fainting spells.
- Electrophysiological testing and mapping – This is invasive testing done at a hospital by a qualified Cardiologist who specializes in electrical disorders of the heart. Catheters are threaded through your blood vessels to a variety of spots within your heart. The catheters have electrodes on them that sense and also can deliver electrical activity, and can map the spread of electrical impulses through your heart. Additionally, your doctor can use the electrodes to stimulate your heart to beat at rates that may trigger or stop an arrhythmia. This will allow your doctor to see the location of the arrhythmia and what may be causing it.
If you have an arrhythmia, treatment may or may not be required. Usually its necessary only if the arrhythmia is causing significant symptoms or if it’s putting you at risk of a more serious arrhythmia or arrhythmia complication.
Arrhythmia Management in New York
Just having an arrhythmia doesn’t necessarily increase your risk of heart attack, cardiac arrest and stroke, although all of these are possible depending on the specific nature of the abnormality. Medical or surgical management may be necessary in order to prevent ongoing symptoms and to keep your heart as healthy as possible. You should always take all of your medications exactly as prescribed and may be asked to monitor your pulse. Try to keep a record of your pulse along with the day and time as well as notes about how you felt at the time.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes in order to control other risk factors and manage your arrhythmia. These lifestyle changes include a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, drinking alcohol in moderation, cutting back on caffeine intake, and maintaining follow-up care. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control can be extremely important too.
At Preventive Cardiology of New York, Dr. Marcus will work with you to help to diagnose, manage, and treat your arrhythmia symptoms and condition, and make appropriate referrals as indicated clinically. If you would like to be tested for an arrhythmia or think you have one, call us at (646) 661-2427. We look forward to hearing from you!