Arrhythmia Treatment at Mary Washington & Stafford Hospitals
Electrophysiology is the study of the electrical activity and pathways
of the heart. Patients seen by an electrophysiologist are suspected of
having or have been diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
Treatment plans for arrhythmias are very patient specific. Learn more
about our treatments below.
Catheter Ablation uses radio waves or freezing to silence an abnormal area
in the heart’s electrical system, which is usually found during
an electrophysiology study. Ablation is one option for treating arrhythmias
(abnormal heart rhythm).
Three types of ablation:
- Electrical of Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation
- AV Node Ablation
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small device that’s
placed in your chest or abdomen. This device uses electrical pulses or
shocks to help control life-threatening,
irregular heartbeats, especially those that could lead the heart to suddenly stop beating (sudden
cardiac arrest). If the heart stops beating, blood stops flowing to the
brain and other vital organs. This usually causes death if it’s
not treated in minutes. Placing an ICD requires minor surgery, which is
usually done in a hospital. You will be given medicine right before the
surgery that will help you relax and may make you fall asleep. Your doctor
will give you a local anesthetic so you won’t feel anything in the
area where the doctor puts the ICD.
Once you have an ICD, you have to avoid close or prolonged contact with
electrical devices or devices that have strong magnetic fields.
Devices that can interfere with an ICD include:
- Cell phones
- Appliances, such as microwave ovens
- High-tension wires
- Metal detectors
- Industrial welders
- Electrical generators
These devices disrupt the electrical signaling of your ICD and stop it
from working properly. You can still use household appliances and cell
phones, but avoid close and prolonged exposure. You can walk through security
system metal detectors. Someone can check you with a metal detector wand
as long as it isn’t held for too long over your ICD site.
Doctors often treat irregular heartbeats with a device called a pacemaker.
A permanent pacemaker is a small device that is implanted under the skin
(most often in the shoulder area just under the collar bone), and sends
electrical signals to start or regulate a slow heartbeat. A permanent
pacemaker may be used to make the heart beat if the heart is not functioning
properly and has developed an abnormal heart rate or rhythm (arrhythmias)
or if the electrical pathways are blocked. Pacemakers are typically used
for slow arrhythmias such as sinus bradycardia, sick sinus syndrome, or