What to know about heart arrhythmia treatments
Heart arrhythmia is when your heart beats too fast, too slowly, or irregularly.
Home remedies may help manage the condition, but treatments include specific drugs or therapies. In severe cases, a doctor may recommend more invasive treatments.
Heart arrhythmia treatments
There are several treatment options available for heart arrhythmia.
Medications known as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers can slow down a fast heart rate, while antiarrhythmic drugs can restore the heart’s regular rhythm.
Alongside drugs that aim to regulate your heartbeat, a doctor may also prescribe an anticoagulant, which is a blood-thinning drug, to reduce the risk of serious heart events like blood clots.
In some cases, doctors may suggest therapies to correct arrhythmia:
- Cardioversion: This is when electric shocks restore the heart’s regular rhythm.
- Catheter ablation: This is a minimally invasive procedure where the heart is purposely scarred to target specific areas that cause arrhythmia.
- Vagal maneuvers: These are ranges of movements or interventions, like handstands, coughing, or holding your breath, that aim to alter your heart rhythm.
Device-based and surgical options
In some cases, doctors may recommend device-based therapy to treat heart arrhythmia.
This is where a surgeon will insert a device like a pacemaker, which helps regulate the heartbeat, or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), which is a small device that can help prevent sudden, fatal cardiac events.
Other procedures may include:
- Catheter ablation: This surgery corrects the heart’s electrical rhythm by destroying small parts of abnormal heart tissue.
- Surgical ablation or Cox-maze procedure: In this surgery, a doctor makes small incisions in the heart’s upper chambers (atria) to form scar tissue and block abnormal electrical signals.
- Hybrid surgical-catheter procedure: This combines catheter ablation with a smaller-scale version of the Cox-maze procedure.
A surgeon may only perform some procedures if you require heart surgery for reasons other than arrhythmia.
What is heart arrhythmia?
Heart arrhythmia is when your heart beats too fast, too slowly, or irregularly, and it’s believed that 1.5% to 5% of people worldwide live with the condition.
Arrhythmia has many causes, including:
- heart damage
- irregularities with the heart’s electrical system
- electrolyte abnormalities
- specific heart infections
- heart inflammation
- specific drugs
In some cases, the cause remains unknown.
There are different types of heart arrhythmia, including tachycardia, when your heart beats too fast when you rest. and bradycardia, where the heart beats too slowly.
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- dizziness and fainting
Seeking medical attention
In some cases, a heart arrhythmia can be life threatening. If you experience any symptoms, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.
Free prescription coupons
Seriously … free. Explore prices that beat the competition 70% of the time.Get free card
How is heart arrhythmia diagnosed?
Diagnosis of heart arrhythmia typically begins with a physical examination and medical history review.
Your doctor may also order tests, such as:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): This is a short, pain-free test where patches stuck to your body measure your heart activity.
- Echocardiogram: This test produces images of your heart using sound waves.
- Holter monitor: This wearable device measures your heart activity for 24 to 48 hours.
- Stress test: This test involves checking your heart using ECG or other imaging techniques while you exercise or take medication to add stress to the heart.
- Blood tests: These may include tests like a complete blood count, electrolytes, or kidney and thyroid function.
With the help of a cardiologist, most arrhythmia types are manageable. However, outcomes can be more uncertain with specific arrhythmia types or if you have any underlying conditions.
Can lifestyle strategies and home remedies help?
Alongside medical treatment, lifestyle strategies and home remedies can help manage heart arrhythmia. These include:
- Diet: According to a 2021 review, the heart benefits of the Mediterranean diet are notable in reducing the risk of heart arrhythmia, especially if you also get plenty of fish, extra virgin olive oil, and magnesium.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can improve the heart’s strength and function. If you have heart arrhythmia, exercise may improve the condition.
- Quitting smoking: If you smoke, it can increase your risk of heart arrhythmia, and quitting lowers your risk.
- Managing anxiety and stress: A 2021 review suggests that anxiety stress can sometimes trigger heart issues, so finding ways to manage these conditions may prevent or improve symptoms.
- Avoiding or limiting alcohol: Alcohol consumption is a known risk factor for heart disease, so reducing your intake can also limit heart arrhythmia risk.
- Home remedies: A review from 2016 explores how home remedies like garlic may improve heart conditions, including arrhythmias, though more research is needed.
Heart arrhythmia is when your heart beats too fast, too slowly, or irregularly. Factors like heart damage, lifestyle, and particular medical conditions can cause this.
Heart arrhythmia treatment options include medications, therapy, and in some cases, surgery. Additionally, lifestyle strategies and home remedies may help manage symptoms and reduce risk.
Diagnosis typically begins with a physical examination, a review of your medical history, and different tests, like an ECG.
If you experience symptoms of heart arrhythmia, it’s important to seek medical attention and work with your doctor to find the best treatment plan.
- Al-Khatib SA, et al. (2017). 2017 AHA/ACC/HRS guideline for management of patients with ventricular arrhythmias and the prevention of sudden cardiac death. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000549
- Barstow C, et al. (2017). Cardiovascular disease update: Bradyarrhythmias. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28266824/
- Batelaan N, et al. (2021). Anxiety, mental stress, and sudden cardiac arrest: Epidemiology, possible mechanisms and future research.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8850954/
- Blood tests. (2022). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/blood-tests
- Calcium channel blockers. (2017). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548577/
- Chung M, et al. (2020). Lifestyle and risk factor modification for reduction of atrial fibrillation: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000748
- Desai DS, et al. (2022). Arrhythmias. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK558923/
- Doherty J, et al. (2017). 2017 ACC expert consensus decision pathway for periprocedural management of anticoagulation in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation: A report of the American College of Cardiology Clinical Expert Consensus Document Task Force. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109716370851
- Driver K, et al. (2015). Hybrid approaches in partial fibrillation ablation: Why, where, and who? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4321069/
- Giada F, et al. (2018). Clinical approach to patients with palpitations. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29784490/
- Giannopoulos A, et al. (2021). Innervation imaging to guide ventricular arrhythmia ablation. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12350-019-01632-z
- Grandi E, et al. (2020). Antiarrhythmic mechanisms of beta blocker therapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6679787/
- Jaakkola S, et al. (2018). Cardioversion for atrial fibrillation – how to prevent thromboembolic complications? https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07853890.2018.1523552
- Kamp N, et al. (2019). The subcutaneous implantable cardioverter-defibrillator in review. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S000287031930208X
- Liang X, et al. (2017). Development of the cardiac pacemaker. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5540370/
- Mankad P, et al. (2019). Antiarrhythmic drugs: Risks and benefits. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025712519300525
- Masri I, et al. (2021). Is exercise helpful or harmful in dealing with specific arrhythmia? https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0146280620302164
- Niehues L, et al. (2022). Vagal maneuver. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551575/
- Page RL, et al. (2015). 2015 ACC/AHA/HRS guideline for the management of adult patients with Supraventricular Tachycardia. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/cir.0000000000000311
- Pandey A, et al. (2017). Predictors and prognostic implications of incident heart failure in patients with prevalent atrial fibrillation. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213177916305078
- Papadopoulus CH, et al. (2018). Echocardiography and cardiac arrhythmias. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1109966617304104
- Pozzolini A, et al. (2019). Complex arrhythmias due to reversible causes. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31084857/
- Rastogi S, et al. (2016). Traditional herbs: a remedy for cardiovascular disorders. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26656228/
- Ruaengsri C, et al. (2018). The Cox-maze IV procedure in its second decade: still the gold standard? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018688/
- Sana F, et al. (2021). Wearable devices for ambulatory cardiac monitoring. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7316129/
- Sagris M, et al. (2021). Atrial fibrillation: Pathogenesis, predisposing factors, and genetics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8744894/
- Seshadri DR, et al. (2020). Accuracy of Apple Watch for detection of atrial fibrillation. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.044126
- Staerk L, et al. (2018). Atrial fibrillation: Epidemiology, pathophysiology, and clinical outcomes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5500874/
- Symptoms, diagnosis and monitoring of arrhythmia. (2022). https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/symptoms-diagnosis--monitoring-of-arrhythmia
- Tisdale JE, et al. (2020). Drug-induced arrhythmias: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000905