medical

TREATMENT

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MEDICATION

CATHETER
ABLATION

IMPLANTABLE CARDIOVERTER-DEFIBRILLATOR

Your doctor will determine the type of treatment you will need for your type of tachycardia. Your treatment options could include medication, ablation, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or open-heart surgery.

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MEDICATION

Your doctor may prescribe medication to try and control a fast heartbeat (tachycardia). It can be taken in pill form or by injection.

Anti-arrhythmics – Commonly given drug such as Amiodarone, Sotolol, and others.

Blood thinners – Patients with tachycardia are at greater risk for blood clots, so your physician may prescribe blood thinners like aspirin, dabigatran (Pradaxa), or warfarin (Coumadin) to reduce blood clot formation. 


Beta-blockers
– Beta-blockers decrease the heart’s need for blood and oxygen by slowing the heart down. They also help the heart to beat in a regular rhythm. 


Calcium channel blockers
– Calcium channel blockers decrease blood pressure by dilating vessels. They also decrease how strongly the heart contracts, reducing the amount of oxygen it needs. 


Diuretics
– Diuretics reduce the amount of fluid in the body so the heart needs to do less work. 


Nitrates
– Nitrates relax blood vessels, increasing the amount of blood and oxygen that can flow to the heart.

CATHETER ABLATION


One method for treating tachycardia is catheter ablation. This procedure uses a special catheter to heat, freeze, or use radiofrequency to ablate (damage) the atrioventricular (AV) node or tissue responsible for creating an electrical pathway that is disrupting the normal function of the heart. The procedure can improve your quality of life and reduce the frequency of tachyarrhythmia, but it is not a cure. Ablation is a fast, effective method for treating various cardiac rhythm disturbances and has a low rate of complications.

The following arrhythmias (conditions characterized by an abnormal or irregular heartbeat rhythm) are treated by radiofrequency catheter ablation therapy:

  • Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome
  • Atrial flutter
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Reentry circuits
  • Supraventricular tachycardia
    (SVT or atrial tachycardia)
  • AV node reentry tachycardia (AVNRT)
  • Extra conduction pathways (accessory pathways)
  • Ventricular tachycardia

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IMPLANTABLE CARDIOVERTER-DEFIBRILLATOR

An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) delivers anti-tachycardia pacing and/or electroshocks to terminate tachycardia (heart rhythms that are so fast that the blood no longer circulates sufficiently). It is larger than a pacemaker and is implanted in the chest to monitor the heartbeat and to deliver electrical shock to reset the heart to its normal rhythm. If you are at risk of life-threatening tachycardia,your doctor may recommend an ICD.

MR conditional

Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) have historically been considered a contraindication (a reason to withhold medical treatment due to potential harm to the patient) for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). In 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ICD technology that can be used safely during MRI. Today there are ICD available that are MR conditional.

This new technology allows ICD patients to safely have an MRI exam under certain conditions if they need one in the future.

Automated Heart Rate Adjustment Sensors

Your doctor can program your ICD to automatically increase your heart rate, based on what your body needs for various activities. The ICD will make these rate adjustments, using one of the following sensors:

Motion Sensor (Accelerometer) – This sensor detects changes in motion (similar to smart phones rotating the image) and increases heart rate when an activity results in physical movement.

Breathing Rate Sensor (Minute Ventilation) – This sensor detects changes in breathing, and once customized for patients, it will increase heart rate when breathing patterns vary.

Biological Demand Sensor (Closed Loop Stimulation) – CLS is a unique sensor that reacts to physiologic demand, whether it is caused by acute mental stress or physical movement. This sensor is very successful at mimicking a healthy heart. It increases patients’ ability to perform low energy consuming daily activities, compared to an accelerometer.

 

Open-Heart Surgery

Open-heart surgery can be used to destroy the tissue responsible for creating an electrical pathway that is disrupting the normal function of the heart. During the surgery, incisions will be made to the affected areas. Since scar tissue will not conduct electricity, it will interrupt the impulses responsible for your tachycardia.

Living With

icon_aftercareAfter treatment, you’ll want to know about post-operative care, recovery, and when you can return to your normal activities.

You’ll also need to know how to protect yourself and your device in certain post-implant situations.

TOP QUESTIONS

icon_questionsEveryone has questions. We’ve got answers to the ones ICD patients ask most.

This list of questions and answers can help you prepare for your next doctor’s consultation and possibly ease unnecessary fears.

Choosing Your ICD

Not all ICDs are alike. Get our educational eguide, Choosing Your ICD, and learn what functions are key to choosing the best device for your lifestyle.

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LEARN MORE ABOUT ARRHYTHMIA

Get our educational eguide, Understanding Abnormal Heart Rhythms, and learn about the basic heart functions and types of arrhythmia.