Heart Rhythm Disorders
Movies spend a lot of time talking about hearts: hearts pounding in a suspenseful drama, hearts skipping in romances when people meet the love of their lives, and the heart-stopping excitement of an action-adventure. But in real life, we count on our hearts to be steady, beating between 60 to 100 times a minute, every minute of our lives. When that rhythm is disrupted, it’s time to turn to a team that knows how to help—our specialized cardiac electrophysiologists at The Heart Rhythm Center at The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates.
Cur Your Rhythm. Free Your Mind.
We offer a patient-centered academic approach to clinical care, combining the resources of an advanced laboratory with the experience of our committed team of specialists. Our physicians serve on committees for the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and the Heart Rhythm Society, and our patients may be able to participate in cutting edge clinical trials which open the possibilities of tomorrow’s heath care advancements to today’s patients.
We also understand that arrhythmia affects much more than your heart. There is worry and even fear when your heart rhythm is unpredictable. Our patients have told us how, before treatment, they were afraid to travel in case of a rhythm disturbance, or how they put off exercise hoping it would help them avoid arrhythmia’s effects. When their cardiac quality improved, so did their quality of life, as they regained the confidence to take action. That’s why at the Heart Rhythm Center, we believe in treatment and in transformation:
What is an Arrhythmia?
An Arrhythmia is often called an abnormal heartbeat, and it means your heart can be beating too fast, too slow, or in an irregular rhythm. Arrhythmias can range from harmless flutters that cause no or little symptoms, to much more serious types of arrhythmias that can cause the heart to pump too little blood, potentially causing the heart to stop, resulting in fainting and/or sudden cardiac death.
Arrhythmias have many potential causes, including:
- Congenital heart defects
- Emotional stress
- Heart attacks
- Use of some drugs or heavy alcohol
- Use of some over-the-counter or prescription medicines
- Using too much caffeine.
Arrhythmias can affect people of all ages, though older adults are more at risk.
The most common type of serious arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation, or AF. The American Heart Association estimates 2.7 million Americans live with AF, and experience the very fast and irregular contracting of the heart’s two upper chambers, which are the atria. When this happens, the atria can’t pump blood into lower chambers as they usually do. Some patients describe feeling a fluttering in their chest, a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, faintness or chest pain.
AF may occur infrequently, or it may be continuous, and its most serious potential complications are stroke and heart failure. Atrial fibrillation is most common in patients who are at least 50 years old, or those with other kinds of heart disease. Other types of heart arrhythmias can make the heart go too fast or too slow. These include: atrial arrhythmias, ventricular arrhythmias, and heart block. Heart block is when the electrical signal does not pass through the heart. With proper treatment, most arrhythmias can be managed so that a patient can live a normal life.