What is arrhythmia?
When your heart is functioning normally, it delivers oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to your body’s cells and beats a consistent rhythm. However, when the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat is too fast or slow, with an irregular pattern, the condition is referred to as an arrhythmia. This could be the result of a fault or faults in the heart’s electric circuitry.
While an irregular heartbeat is fairly common, many people are unaware until they experience symptoms. ‘The condition can present with dizziness or heart palpitations, loss of consciousness and chest pains,’ explains Dr Vinod Thomas, an electrophysiologist and cardiologist at Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town. And it can result in a sudden cardiac event, such as heart failure, if the patient receives no treatment.
Dr Thomas, who recently performed the state-of-the-art His-bundle cardiac pacemaker procedure explains: ‘The practice of cardiac electrophysiology diagnoses, manages and treats heart-rhythm disorders by installing cardiac devices into the heart or using catheters to discern healthy tissue from tissue that needs to be destroyed.
An electrophysiology study is conducted to show where the arrhythmia is coming from and can help to plot a course of action; in other words, does the patient need medicine, a catheter ablation or an installation of a cardiac device?’ Dr Thomas says that the high success rate of ablations and installations as opposed to prescription medicine is something to be noted.
‘Prescription drugs for heart health maintenance can be avoided in many instances – what could be better than having the surgery and/or ablation and feeling 100% better after the procedure?’ he remarks.