If you have ever felt like your heart is fluttering, beating irregularly or even skipping a beat, you may have an arrhythmia. Arrhythmias cause an irregular heart rhythm. Your heart rate may speed up or slow down, affecting your heart’s ability to pump blood.
Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is the most common type of arrhythmia. Left untreated, certain arrhythmias may lead to heart attack or stroke.
Henry Ford arrhythmia care: Why choose us
For nearly 20 years, our heart rhythm experts (electrophysiologists) have been delivering comprehensive care. Our specialized clinics offer:
- Ease of care: We make it easy to get the care you need with numerous clinics located throughout southeastern Michigan. If your condition is more advanced, our team coordinates additional care and services with the Henry Ford Atrial Fibrillation Center located on our downtown Detroit campus.
- Fast evaluation and treatment: With so many clinic locations, we see new patients quickly.
- Physician partnerships: Our experts work closely with your referring physician. You can relax knowing that you can go back to seeing doctors in your community after you start feeling better.
- Comprehensive exams: At our Atrial Fibrillation Center, we provide care for patients with even the most complex forms of atrial fibrillation. Our team conducts a complete physical exam. We also look at lifestyle factors that may be affecting your condition.
- Expert diagnosis: Our electrophysiology (EP) labs are dedicated diagnostic labs where we test the electrical activity of your heart. Using specialized equipment, our team of experts accurately diagnoses your condition. Learn more about arrhythmia diagnosis.
- Advanced treatments: We deliver the best available treatments including the newly approved LARIAT™ procedure and WATCHMAN™ device. Learn more about our arrhythmia treatments.
- Follow-up care: Atrial fibrillation is often a lifelong condition. If your treatment includes an implantable device, regular visits to our pacemaker clinics can help you stay healthy.
What is a heart arrhythmia?
In a healthy heart, electricity flows in an organized pattern producing regular heartbeats. A disruption to this pattern causes an irregular rhythm, also known as an arrhythmia. Arrhythmias may be completely harmless or they may be life-threatening. Our heart rhythm specialists can determine the severity of your arrhythmia using advanced diagnostic tools.
Types of arrhythmias
There are several types of arrhythmia:
- Atrial fibrillation occurs when the upper chambers of your heart contract irregularly.
- Ventricular fibrillation occurs when the lower chambers of your heart contract irregularly.
- Bradycardia occurs when your heart rate is too slow (less than 60 beats per minute).
- Tachycardia occurs when your heart rate is too fast (more than 100 beats per minute).
- Premature contractions occur when an extra heart beat comes sooner than normal.
It’s possible to have an arrhythmia and not have any symptoms. Or you may experience one or more of these arrhythmia symptoms:
- A feeling like your heart skipped a beat
- A fluttering in your chest or neck
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Causes of arrhythmias
Your chances of developing an arrhythmia increase with age. Other factors that up your risk include:
- Heart muscle damage from a heart attack, heart disease or other cardiac event
- Congenital heart abnormalities present (and possibly undetected) since birth
- Low levels of minerals such as potassium, magnesium or calcium
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Addictions to alcohol, nicotine or illegal substances
Diagnosis and arrhythmia treatment
Because arrhythmias can be life threatening, our heart rhythm experts at The Henry Ford Heart & Vascular Institute work quickly to determine the cause of an arrhythmia and the type of treatment needed. Treatment options may include: