Heart & Vascular Specialists of Oklahoma
Rakesh Shrivastava MD, FACC • Venkat Rajaram MD, MS
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When the upper chambers of the heart beat unusually fast and out of sync with the ventricular or lower chambers, the condition is called artial fibrillation. As one of Oklahoma's specialist in interventional cardiology, we were one of the first to offer patients a new minimally invasive surgery for treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Ventricular fibrillation, When the lower chambers of the heart beat abnormally fast and become out of sync with the upper atrial chambers, ventricular fibrillation occurs. This life-threatening emergency condition requires emergency attention.

Other heart-rate disorders include:

Atrial fibrillation occurs when the upper chamber of the heart "fibrillates" or beats irregularly and unusually fast. It is a common heart rhythm disorder affecting more than 2 million people in the United States. It is caused by a disturbance in the electrical conduction system in the heart, resulting in the atrial (upper) and ventricular (lower) chambers beating out of sync with one another. 

Atrial flutter a more organized rhythm disturbance in which the upper heart chambers beat regularly, but two to three times faster than the ventricular chambers. The flutter disturbance can originate in either the left or right atrium, and may occur intermittently in combination with bouts of atrial fibrillation or as an isolated rhythm disturbance.

Bradycardia is an unusually slow heart rate. This condition also can occur as tachycardia-bradycardia, also referred to as sick sinus syndrome, when the heart rate alternates between rapid and slow heart rates. Bradycardia is a medical condition occurring more often in older individuals, and requires treatment with a permanent pacemaker, especially if fainting spells are caused by bradycardia. 

Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardias occurs when the heart beats too quickly from time to time, or sporadically, it is referred to as paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) or paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT). It usually occurs in younger individuals, but can occur at any age. PSVT can be caused by alcohol and caffeine use, and excessive smoking. Certain drugs also can cause these episodes. 

Ventricular fibrillation is a condition of the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) causing the heart to beat unusually fast and are out of sync with the beating of the atria (upper chambers). Ventricular fibrillation or VF is a life-threatening medical emergency and is the typical cause of a fatal cardiac arrest.

A normal heart rate is 50 to 100 beats per minute. Arrhythmias and abnormal heart rates don't necessarily occur together. Arrhythmias can occur with a normal heart rate, or with heart rates that are slow (called bradyarrhythmias -- less than 50 beats per minute). Arrhythmias can also occur with rapid heart rates (called tachyarrhythmias -- faster than 100 beats per minute). In the United States, more than 850,000 people are hospitalized for an arrhythmia each year.

Your doctor will prescribe a course of treatment based on your individual need. For some people, there are minor procedures that can be performed in-office that are as easy as holding your breath or coughing. Other people will require a medication that helps regulate the heart. When those treatments are not enough, your doctor may consider shocking your heart back into arrhythmia, or even consider a medical procedure. Advanced cases may require a pacemaker or an implantable defibrillator. Work with your doctor to discover the best course of treatment that is easy on your heart and gives you long lasting peace of mind.

Many people live long lives with Arrhythmia, even after they have been implanted with a device. Work with your doctor to discover your best course of treatment, stay under his care to monitor changes, and consider lifestyle changes that can lead to a healthier heart.