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Your heart's electrical system keeps it beating properly, most of the time. But some people develop arrhythmias, or rhythm disorders. These disorders can range from skipped heartbeats to rapid heartbeats and can strike people at any age. Some of these disorders can lead to dizzy spells and fainting and others are life threatening.
Ali Kizilbash, MD, an electrophysiologist/cardiologist on the medical staff at Baylor Medical Center at Irving, says that up until a few decades ago, medication was the only option for treating arrhythmias. But now, these new therapeutic options can also help:
In this procedure, electrophysiologists/cardiologists either freeze or cauterize (burn) the tissue that's causing the arrhythmia. It typically requires an overnight hospital stay.
These implanted medical devices can regulate the heartbeat and help patients who pass out because of slow heart rhythm.
These implanted devices regulate both of the heart's ventricles at the same time, so they pump blood more effectively. They are typically used in people with heart failure due to damage from a heart attack or other causes. "Some people recover function completely," says Dr. Kizilbash.
If you have a rhythm disorder, your primary care physician can refer you to a cardiologist who specializes in electrophysiology.
Dr. Kizilbash points out that people who have congestive heart failure or are at risk of cardiac death should know their ejection fraction, which is a measure of the heart's ability to contract. If your number is low, there are devices that can help.
For some ablation procedures, doctors can use magnets to guide a catheter to the parts of the heart with the abnormal electrical circuit. Doctors place magnets alongside the patient and control the catheter with a joystick. Magnetic navigation lowers the risk of damaging the heart.
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