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Arrhythmia

An arrhythmia is any change in rate or rhythm of your heartbeat (irregular heartbeat). Your heart may beat too quickly (tachycardia), too slowly (bradycardia) or in an irregular pattern.

Arrhythmia symptoms may include the following:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Fast or slow heart rate
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Sweating

Arrhythmia: what you should know

  • There are many types of arrhythmias, ranging from a few skipped beats — which are mostly just a nuisance — to a racing heart that can lead to long-term damage.
  • The most common type of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation, a fast and irregular heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure.
  • Arrhythmias can be caused by a number of factors, including congenital heart problems, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Care for arrhythmia at Rush

The type of treatment used by your doctor will depend on the type and severity of the arrhythmia. Specialists at Rush offer the full spectrum of options for treating arrhythmia, including the following:

  • Medications may be used to regulate your heartbeat. The most common types of medications for the treatment of arrhythmia are antiarrhythmic drugs, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers and anticoagulants.
  • Cardiac ablation surgery is an outpatient procedure that can potentially cure certain arrhythmias. A physician uses a catheter through a vein or artery in the leg to reach the heart and destroy the tissue in the area of the heart that is not performing properly.
  • A cardiac pacemaker or cardiac defibrillator (ICD), small devices placed inside the chest or abdomen, may be used to bring the heart back into normal rhythm. These devices allow patients to live active lives with the freedom of not being tied to a large machine. Data from these devices can now be transmitted wirelessly from patients' homes. 

Why choose Rush for arrhythmia care

  • Specialists at the Electrophysiology, Arrhythmia and Pacemaker Program at Rush focus on arrhythmias, leading to a better understanding of the complexities of its care.
  • Rush offers wireless monitoring of pacemakers and defibrillators. With wireless monitoring, your doctor will be alerted quickly if your heart rhythm changes and requires a medication adjustment. 
  • Heart surgeons at Rush use the Sensei Robotic Catheter, a system that allows physicians to treat complex arrhythmias with greater precision.

Departments and programs that treat this condition

Frank Butera, who had a cardiac ablation, describes his care at Rush University Medical Center wi