Have you ever felt like your heart skipped a beat, fluttered or beat faster than normal? Most of us have. But when do you know if it’s from drinking too much coffee or being under a mountain of stress versus a more serious medical condition?
Heart palpitations can be normal if they happen infrequently and you can trace them to a known cause like caffeine or anxiety. If they happen regularly, however, and you have other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, lightheadedness and fatigue, or risk factors including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or family history of heart disease, it’s important to be evaluated by your healthcare provider to ensure there isn’t an underlying issue, such as an arrhythmia.
Arrhythmias are abnormal heartbeats. They cause the heart to flutter, pause or beat too slow or too fast. The most common arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is a rapid and irregular heartbeat.
Our heartbeats are controlled by electrical signals that tell the muscles in our heart when to contract. In AFib, for example, these signals become erratic, causing an irregular rhythm and uncoordinated contractions. Blood isn’t pumped as effectively through the body and may then collect in the heart, which can lead to clotting and stroke. In fact, those with the condition have a five times greater risk of stroke than someone without AFib.
“We can provide lasting solutions for people’s arrhythmia problems they may have had their entire lives,” says Overlake electrophysiologist Robert Rho, MD.
In partnership with EvergreenHealth, Overlake’s highly trained cardiac electrophysiologists diagnose and treat the electrical activities of the heart with the most advanced technologies available.
If an arrhythmia is confirmed, the electrophysiologist will determine whether a medical or surgical method is needed. That may include medication, a procedure such as catheter ablation or an implantable device.
“Our patient-centered team approach means we take care in addressing each person’s individual condition,” adds Overlake electrophysiologist Jeffrey Fowler, MD.
For a more in-depth look at arrhythmia care at Overlake, visit overlakehospital.org/heartbeat. You’ll find an array of informational videos on topics such as device therapy, AFib and a tour of our arrhythmia center.