Be Good to Your Heart

April 03, 2014

Aging is a risk factor for heart disease including arrhythmia, which is an irregular heart rhythm. The most common type of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation (AF), which can be present even if you don’t have heart disease, says Dave T. Kim, M.D., an electrophysiologist at Providence Tarzana.

AF occurs when the heart’s two small upper chambers quiver instead of beating as they should, which leads to improper blood pumping and can cause a stroke or a heart attack. Symptoms of arrhythmia, including AF, can be the feeling that your heart is fluttering or skipping a beat, shortness of breath, dizziness or fatigue.

Treatment options for arrhythmias include blood-thinning medications and a minimally invasive procedure known as catheter ablation. The procedure uses radiofrequency energy to destroy tissue that’s causing irregular rhythms, while leaving healthy tissue intact. Implantable pacemakers and defibrillators are another option for treating arrhythmias.

Some risk factors for arrhythmias include diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, congestive heart failure and obesity. Managing those risk factors can help reduce your chance of developing an arrhythmia.

“You can prevent atrial fibrillation to some degree by leading a heart-healthy life, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and keeping blood pressure at healthy levels,” says Dr. Kim. Should a patient require an ablation, Providence Tarzana has a catheterization lab specially designed for this procedure. Our state-of-the art facility provides some of the most advanced equipment available for cath lab procedures.