Arrhythmia treatment

| July 11, 2010 | 0 Comments | 957 views

Many arrhythmias do not require any treatment. For serious arrhythmias, treating the underlying heart disease sometimes controls the arrhythmia. In some cases, the arrhythmia itself is treated with drugs, electrical shock (cardioversion), automatic implantable defibrillators, artificial pacemakers, catheter ablation, or surgery. Supraventricular arrhythmias often can be treated with drug therapy. Ventricular arrhythmias are more complex to treat. Drug therapy can manage many arrhythmias, but finding the right drug and dose requires care and can take some time. Common drugs for suppressing arrhythmias include beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, quinidine, digitalis preparations, and pro-cainamide. Because of their potential serious side effects, stronger, desensitizing drugs are used only to treat life-threatening arrhythmias. All of the drugs used to treat arrhythmias have possible side effects, ranging from mild complications with beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers to more serious effects of desensitizing drugs that can, paradoxically, cause arrhythmias or make them worse. Response to drugs is usually measured by ECG, Holter monitor, or electrophysiologic study. In emergency situations, cardioversion or defibrillation (the application of an electrical shock to the chest wall) is used. Cardioversion restores the heart to its normal rhythm. It is followed by drug therapy to prevent recurrence of the arrhythmia. Artificial pacemakers that send electrical signals to make the heart beat properly can be implanted under the skin during a simple operation. Leads from the pacemaker are anchored to the right side of the heart. Pacemakers are used to correct bradycardia and are sometimes used after surgical or catheter ablation. Automatic implantable defibrillators correct life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias by recognizing them and then restoring a normal heart rhythm by pacing the heart or giving it an electric shock. They are implanted within the chest wall without major surgery and store information for future evaluation by physicians. Automatic implantable defibrillators have proven to be more effective in saving lives than drugs alone. They often are used in conjunction with drug therapy. Ablation, a procedure to alter or remove the heart tissue causing the arrhythmia in order to prevent a recurrence, can be performed through a catheter or surgery. Supraventricular tachycardia can be treated successfully with ablation. Catheter ablation is performed in a catheterization laboratory with the patient under sedation. A catheter equipped with a device that maps the heart's electrical pathways is inserted into a vein and is threaded into the heart.High-frequency radio waves are then used to remove the pathway(s) causing the arrhythmia. Surgical ablation is similar in principle but it is performed in a hospital, using a cold probe instead of radio waves to destroy tissue. Ablation treatments are used when medications fail. Maze surgery treats atrial fibrillation by making multiple incisions through the atrium to allow electrical impulses to move effectively. This is often recommended for patients who have not responded to drugs or cardioversion. Since some arrhythmias can be life threatening, a conventional medical doctor should always be consulted first. Acupuncture can correct an insignificant number (1.5%) of atrial fibrillation cases. For new, minor arrhythmias, acupuncture may be effective in up to 70% of cases, but this figure may not differ much from placebo therapy. Both western and Chi-nese herbal remedies are also used in the treatment of arrhythmias. Since hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) dilates the blood vessels and stimulates the heart muscle, it may help to stabilize arrhythmias. It is gentle and appropriate for home use, unlike foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), an herb whose action on the heart is too potent for use without supervision by a qualified practitioner. Homeopathic practitioners may prescribe remedies such as Lachesis and aconite or monkshood (Aconitum napellus) to treat mild arrhythmias.

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Category: Acupuncture Treatment

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