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Arrhythmia Programme

Arrhythmia Programme: Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

The Arrhythmia Programme at CVSKL is a one-stop centre for screening, diagnosis, surveillance and treatment of all irregular heartbeat diseases such as Atrial Fibrillation (AF).

Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

What is Atrial Fibrillation (AF)?

Your heart is divided into 4 chambers. The 2 upper chambers are called the left and right atrium, and the lower 2 chambers are called the left and right ventricles. With each beat of your heart, blood is pumped to and from other parts of the body. The pumping is controlled by your heart’s electrical system. When resting, a normal adult heart usually beats 60-120 times per minute

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an irregular heart rhythm condition that affects the upper chambers (atria) of the heart. This arrhythmia prevents blood from being pumped efficiently to the rest of your body. AF itself is not life-threatening but it can lead to stroke and heart failure, so it has potentially serious side effects.

When AF occurs, disorganized electrical signals cause the atria to quiver rapidly and irregularly, instead of beating in a regular rhythm. Because the heart chambers are not working together properly, this can reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently to the rest of the body.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an irregular heart rhythm that affects the upper chambers (atria) of the heart. This arrhythmia prevents blood from being pumped efficiently to the rest of your body. (Source image: CDC)

What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation (AF)?

Symptoms may vary depending on the severity of your case, its causes and your overall health. You may notice:

What are the risk factors of atrial fibrillation (AF)?

Your risks for AF are increased if you have the risk factors listed below:

What are the causes of atrial fibrillation (AF)?

The causes of AF are often unclear. AF may be caused by:

  • Heart abnormality from birth
  • Damage to the heart structure from a heart attack
  • Heart valve problems
  • People with otherwise normal healthy hearts may also develop AF.

FAQ About Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

A: Stroke. You are 5 times more likely to develop a stroke than someone who doesn’t have AF. Blood may not be properly pumped out of the heart, which may cause it to pool and form a clot. This clot can then travel to the brain and block the flow of blood to part of the brain, which can result in a stroke.

A: AF can be treated or lessened with proper medications and procedures. AF, regardless of the duration, needs to be monitored by a physician.

A: AF can be a serious medical condition that should be treated no matter what level of symptoms you experience. Without effective treatment, AF may lead to stroke, heart failure and other health complications.

A: People can live long and healthy lives with AF. Controlling your risk factors for heart disease and stroke and knowing what could possibly trigger your AF will help improve your long-term management of AF. Your electrophysiologist can help you manage it for life.

Diagnostic Services

Along with the standard methods of diagnosis, our team has special expertise in diagnostic procedures that measure the electrical conduction of the heart, abnormal heartbeat episodes (arrhythmia) and changes to the heart and blood pressure. The team also looks at electrical images of a patient’s heart to determine how well the heart is working. Testing includes:

  • Cardiac rhythm monitoring
  • Electrocardiograms (EKGs)
  • Electrophysiology studies
  • Tilt table studies

Know Your Treatment Options at CVSKL

Medication

Medication such as calcium channel blockers and beta blockers can be used to help slow the conduction of electrical impulses to maintain a slower heart rate:

  • Rate control: helps lower heart rate and regulate the pace of electrical currents.
  • Rhythm control: helps to keep heartbeat and rhythm patterns normal.
  • Anticoagulants (“blood thinners”): to reduce the risk of blood clot formation that can lead to stroke or to treat an existing blood clot.
Medication

Cardioversion

Cardioversion is a medical procedure that restores a normal heart rhythm in people with certain types of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias). It is usually done by sending electric shocks to your heart through electrodes placed on your chest. It’s also possible to do cardioversion with medications.

Cardioversion (Source image: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Left Atrium Appendage

When blood is not pumped properly out of the heart, it may pool in the left atrial appendage and form a clot. If you are at risk for stroke and need to take oral anticoagulants but are either unable or unwilling (because of the associated high risks), LAAC is an implant designed to keep harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream by occluding the LAA. Be sure that you thoroughly understand the risks and benefits associated.

Left Atrium Appendage (Source image: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Ablation (Minimally invasive procedure to correct arrhythmia by disabling unwanted electrical signals)

Ablation is a procedure using either heat (radiofrequency ablation) or freezing (cryoablation) on the area of your heart that’s causing the abnormal heart rhythm (or arrhythmia). This treatment creates scar tissue which breaks abnormal circuits in the heart and destroys areas of the heart muscle which are triggering an arrhythmia.

Which Rhythm Problems Can Be Treated with Ablation?

Catheter ablation can be used to treat many arrhythmias that caused fast heartbeats.

Catheter ablation may be recommended for:

  • Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, which includes:
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
  • AV nodal re-entrant tachycardia
  • Atrial tachycardia
  • Atrial flutter
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Inappropriate sinus tachycardia
  • Ventricular tachycardia
Ablation

Our Team

The Electrophysiologist team consists of:

  • 2 Cardiac Electrophysiologist
  • 2 Radiographers
  • 6 nurses in the EP Lab
  • 1 EP cardiovascular technician

The team works closely with our Anaesthesiologists, Cardiothoracic surgeons, Cardiologists and Nephrologists

Electrophysiologist Team

Electrophysiology Laboratory (EP Lab)

Our electrophysiology laboratory (EP lab) provides the latest equipment for diagnosing and treating abnormal heart rhythms. The EP lab houses advanced imaging capabilities for complex catheter ablations and the latest intracardiac monitoring and recording equipment.

We are one of the very few EP labs in the region that has such advanced technology, including body surface mapping equipment to precisely identify and map the areas responsible for the arrhythmia. We also have a pacemaker analysing system to efficiently conduct pacemaker tests and follow-up care.

Electrophysiology Laboratory (EP lab)

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