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Heart Arrhythmia Atrial Fibrillation

Heart Arrhythmia & Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

What is Heart Arrhythmia?

An arrhythmia is a heart rhythm abnormality that may indicate a serious problem and can lead to heart disease, stroke or even death. An arrhythmia may be suspected when a physician hears a fast or irregular heartbeat while listening to the heart with a stethoscope.

What is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)?

Atrial fibrillation, or "AFib," is the most common type of arrhythmia - it affects about 2.2 million Americans, with 160,000 new cases diagnosed annually. 

Whether the condition is intermittent or chronic, patients with atrial fibrillation or "AFib" are at higher risk for blood clots and strokes.

Types of Heart Arrhythmia

Common types of heart arrhythmia include:

  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
  • Atrial flutter
  • Atrial tachycardia
  • Supraventricular tachycardia
  • Heart block
  • Sick Sinus Syndrome
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome
  • Ectopic heartbeat
  • Premature ventricular contractions
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular fibrillation

Causes and Risk Factors of Heart Arrhythmia

Causes and risk factors of heart arrhythmia include:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Medications and supplements
  • Obesity
  • Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)
  • Pericarditis
  • Smoking
  • Valvular heart disease

Symptoms of Heart Arrhythmia

An arrhythmia can be "silent" and may not cause any symptoms, but among individuals who experience symptoms, common complaints include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Fast or slow heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Light-headedness, dizziness
  • Paleness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skipping beats - changes in the pattern of the pulse
  • Sweating

Diagnosing Heart Arrhythmia and Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Tests to find underlying heart diseases may include:

Treatment For Heart Arrhythmia and Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

At Memorial Hermann, affiliated physicians provide a broad range of treatment options for patients diagnosed with arrhythmia, from noninvasive interventions to device therapy to minimally invasive surgery. These include:

Medications

Many medications are available to treat irregular or fast heart rates, also known as arrhythmia. Medications are given to prevent arrhythmias and slow the heart rate. In most cases, the drugs have to be taken for the rest of the patient's life.

Non-surgical Procedures

Device Therapy

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Research & Clinical Trials

Through participation in clinical research trials, our patients also have access to leading-edge treatments unavailable at other medical centers. Visit research and clinical trials to learn about current research studies related to arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation (AFib), or to enroll as a study participant.

Find a Specialist

Consult with your cardiologist to learn more about heart arrhythmia symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Don't have a cardiologist? Use physician search to find a heart specialist affiliated with Memorial Hermann or schedule an appointment with a cardiologist online 24/7 with ScheduleNow.