Complete Guide to AFIB
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Pacemaker/PPM?
Artificial pacemakers are devices that are implanted into the body, usually just below the collarbone, to take over the job of the heart’s electrical system and prevent slow heart rates. A pacemaker contains a computer with memory and electrical circuits, a powerful battery called a “generator,” and special wires called “leads.” The generator creates electrical impulses that are carried by the leads to the heart muscle, signaling it to pump.
What is a Defibrillator/ICD?
An Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, or ICD, is a battery-powered device that keeps track of your heartbeat, and can help you return to a normal heartbeat. The ICD can detect irregular heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. When the ICD detects a dangerous arrhythmia, such as ventricular fibrillation, it sends a strong electrical impulse that ‘shocks’ your heart out of the dangerous rhythm and allows normal rhythms to resume.
What is Atrial Fibrillation/AFib?
Atrial Fibrillation, AFib for short, is a problem with how your heart beats. With AFib, your heart may beat too fast, switch back and forth from fast to slow, or skip beats. AFib may start suddenly and then stop on its own, or it may become a long-lasting problem. With AFib, your heart can’t pump blood in a normal way. AFib can become worse if it’s not treated. This type of irregular heartbeat gives you a higher risk of stroke and other heart problems.
What is an Atrial Flutter/AFL?
Atrial flutter is similar to AFib because it also occurs in the atria or upper chambers of the heart and can result in a fast heartbeat. However, AFL tends to be an organized rhythm that is caused by an electrical wave that circulates very rapidly in the atrium, about 300 times a minute. This can lead to a very fast, but regular, heartbeat. Like AFib, the atria are not able to beat well and this results in an increased risk of a stroke.
What is a Catheter Ablation?
A normal heartbeat is controlled by a smooth, constant flow of electricity through the heart. A short-circuit anywhere along this electrical pathway can disrupt the normal flow of signals, causing an arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat). Cardiac ablation is a procedure used to destroy these short-circuits and restore normal rhythm, or to block damaged electrical pathways from sending faulty signals to the rest of the heart.
What is a Supraventricular Tachycardia/SVT?
Supraventricular tachycardia, most commonly referred to as SVT, includes different forms, all with similar symptoms. The most common types of SVT are: atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT), atrioventricular reentrant tachycardia (AVRT) and atrial tachycardia (AT).
What is a Ventricular Tachycardia/VT?
Ventricular tachycardia is a rapid heart rhythm that occurs in the lower chambers or ventricles of the heart. It often occurs in people with underlying heart disease like coronary artery disease, heart failure, or history of a previous heart attack. In these situations, it can be a life-threatening arrhythmia which can result in fainting or death if it persists and is untreated.
Ventricular tachycardia (VT) can also happen in people with normal hearts and is called idiopathic VT. Because VT is often associated with symptoms, and in many people can lead to ventricular fibrillation (a dangerously fast and disorganized heartbeat), it is a serious condition that needs aggressive treatment and follow up
What is Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy/CRT?
Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) can relieve CHF symptoms by improving the timing of the heart’s contractions, or beats, which protects patients from abnormally slow and fast heart rhythms. While not all patients will qualify for or benefit from CRT, some patients may have features visible on their electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) indicating that they may improve with CRT.
What is a tilt-table test?
If you often feel faint or lightheaded, your health care team may use a tilt-table test to find out why. During the test, you lie on a table that is slowly tilted upward. The test measures how your blood pressure and heart rate respond to the force of gravity. A nurse or technician keeps track of your blood pressure and your heart rate (pulse) to see how they change during the test.
This test is used to trigger your symptoms while your health care team is watching you. They measure your blood pressure and heart rate during the test to find out what’s causing your symptoms. The test is normal if your average blood pressure stays stable as the table tilts upward and your heart rate increases by a normal amount.
What is a Premature Ventricular Complex/PVC?
Premature ventricular complexes/contractions (PVCs; also referred to premature ventricular beats, premature ventricular depolarizations, or ventricular extrasystoles) are ectopic beats that arise from within the ventricles. They can occur in patients without apparent structural heart disease as well as those with any form of cardiac disease, independent of severity.
What is a Cardiac Loop Recorder?
A cardiac loop recorder is a device that continuously records your heart rhythm. It is also called an insertable cardiac monitor or implantable loop recorder. It is a small device, about the size of a USB memory stick. It is implanted in your left chest area, just under the skin. The device records patterns of your heart’s rhythm, called an EKG.