Heart Arrhythmias and Irregular Heartbeat
Patients deserve access to the best heart rhythm care, close to home. Our internationally-renowned doctors and specialists at the Heart Rhythm Disorder program at the University of Vermont Medical Center will explain your condition and treatment options, answer your questions, and guide you every step of the way.
What Are Heart Arrhythmias?
Heart rhythm disorders (heart arrhythmias) are disruptions in the normal heart rhythm that cause an irregular heartbeat. There are several types of heart arrhythmias, including:
- Fast heart rhythms: atrial fibrillation (AFib), ventricular tachycardia, a condition in which the lower chamber of the heart beats rapidly; supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), an arrhythmia that originates above the ventricles in the atria; and sudden cardiac arrest.
- Slow heart rhythms: bradycardia.
- Uncoordinated heart rhythms: ventricular dyssynchrony, a condition in which the right and left ventricles do not pump at the right time or are out of sync, and premature ventricular contractions, or extra heartbeats.
Heart arrhythmias can be caused by genetics, infections, nutritional deficiencies, certain medications, sleep apnea, stress, or an underlying heart condition. Although some heart arrhythmias are harmless, others can be a sign of a serious condition.
Common Heart Arrhythmia Symptoms
Many people with heart arrhythmias have mild symptoms or none at all, while others' symptoms affect their daily lives. These include:
- Irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations, or a “skipped beat”
- Fluttering sensations in the chest or back
- Fainting or near-fainting spells
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Heart Arrhythmia Diagnosis and Treatment
Our doctors use advanced heart arrhythmia testing to diagnose irregular heartbeats, such as:
- Holter monitor
- Transtelephonic monitor
- Stress test, including exercise stress test
- Tilt-table test
- Electrophysiologic testing
- Esophageal electrophysiologic procedure
Some heart rhythm disorders can be treated with medication while others require procedures, such as:
- Electrical cardioversion
- Implantation of pacemakers, defibrillators, biventricular resynchronization devices, or physiologic (direct His-bundle) pacing devices
- Atrial fibrillation ablation