Find specialized care for heart rhythm disorders from the experts at Palos Health. Benefit from diagnostic tests, personalized treatments, and ongoing support and education at our dedicated Atrial Fibrillation & Arrhythmia Clinic (part of the Heart & Lung Wellness Clinic).
What is a Heart Rhythm Disorder?
A heart rhythm disorder, also known as an arrhythmia, means the heart beats irregularly, too slowly, or too quickly. It happens when the electrical signals that control the heart rate are not working normally.
Types of Heart Rhythm Disorders (Arrhythmias)
Look to our cardiac specialists to diagnose and treat:
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate), such as atrial fibrillation (A-Fib), atrial flutter, or ventricular fibrillation
- Bradycardia (slow heart rate), such as sick sinus syndrome or heart block
- Isolated early or late heartbeats that cause irregular heart rhythms
Signs & Symptoms
Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of an irregular heartbeat. You may feel like your heart is beating too slowly or too quickly. You may also experience:
- Chest pain or fluttering feeling in your chest
- Dizziness or fainting
- Shortness of breath
Sometimes, you may not notice any symptoms.
You may be at higher risk for an arrhythmia if you:
- Are older than 50
- Have post-infection disease disorders
- Are obese
- Consume alcohol
- Have diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, or lung disease
- Have thyroid disease
- Have congenital/familial heart disease
If you have certain risk factors, your doctor may recommend screening tests and heart-healthy lifestyle changes. Screening tests may reveal an arrhythmia before you have symptoms.
How Is Irregular Heartbeat Diagnosed?
Your provider may order certain diagnostic tests to measure the heart’s rhythm.
An EKG checks the heart’s electrical activity. During the test, sensors on your chest and sometimes your arms or legs record data about your heartbeat.
Electrophysiology (EP) Study
If you have an EP study (exam), it’ll take place in a special lab with advanced technology. During your test, a cardiologist who specializes in EP can diagnose and sometimes treat an arrhythmia at the same time.
To record your heart’s rhythm over a period of time, your cardiologist may recommend continuous heart monitoring. A loop recorder device can be placed under the skin on the chest wall.
Working with your physician, your individualized plan will focus on addressing symptoms that interfere with your daily life and prevent serious complications such as stroke or heart failure.
Your plan may include:
Depending on your condition and other factors, you may benefit from:
- Catheter ablation – Uses catheters (long, thin tubes) and small incisions to create small scars on the heart, preventing abnormal electrical activity
- Elective cardioversion – Restores normal heart rhythm through medications or electricity
- Implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) placement – implanted pacemaker with the ability to shock and restore orderly heart rhythms for those at risk for sudden, rapid heart rhythm deterioration
- Maze procedure – Treats A-Fib using heat, cold, or tiny incisions to create scar tissue that prevents abnormal electrical activity
- Permanent pacemaker placement – increases heart rate as needed
If you need surgery or another type of procedure, your doctor will use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible. This means you’ll have smaller incisions and less risk of bleeding, pain, and infection.
Education and Lifestyle Changes
Take an active role in your health with guidance from our knowledgeable team. To help you understand and manage your condition, you’ll receive:
- Anticoagulant (blood-thinner) education
- Diet and nutrition counseling
- Risk factor education
- Smoking cessation services
Get started with the Heart & Lung Wellness Clinic
Are you looking for advanced care for your heart rhythm disorder? Call 708.923.5300 to learn how we can help you treat or manage your heart disease.