Not all arrhythmias need to be treated. Many are harmless and do not cause problems. When arrhythmias affect heart function, and cause symptoms serious enough to affect your daily life, treatment may be needed. The goal of arrhythmia treatment is to restore the normal rhythm to your heart to avoid potential complications such as: Ischemia and heart muscle damage, which may cause a heart attackIschemia to the brain, which may cause a strokeDamage makes the heart work harder to meet the body's demands, which may lead to heart failureProlonged improper blood flow to the brain may cause mild cognitive impairmentErratic heart beats and heart muscle quivering may cause sudden cardiac arrestDeath
If you need treatment, it is likely you will have a health care team that is made up of doctors, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals. It is important throughout your course of treatment to work with your team by maintaining contact, adhering to treatment, and going to any scheduled appointments.
Treatment of arrhythmias depends on the type, cause, and seriousness of the particular rhythm disturbance you have. Common approaches include:
Colucci R, Silver M, et al. Common types of supraventricular tachycardia: Diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(8):942-952. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/1015/p942.html. Accessed March 20, 2014.
Gutierrez C, Blanchard D. Atrial fibrillation: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2011;83(1):61-68. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2011/0101/p61.html. Accessed March 20, 2014.
How are arrhythmias treated?
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/treatment.html. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed March 20, 2014.
Prevention & treatment of arrhythmia. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/Prevention-Treatment-of-Arrhythmia_UCM_002026_Article.jsp. Updated October 25, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2014.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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