FREQUENTLYASKED QUESTIONS

When discussing with your doctor, you may want to use this document to help guide the conversation

When discussing with your doctor, you can guide the conversation with this document.

When discussing with your doctor, you may want to use this document to help guide the conversation

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To consult with your doctor, you can guide the conversation with this document:

Find here the answer to the most frequently asked questions about Arrhythmias.


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GETTING TO KNOW THE ARRHYTHMIAS


To detect and measure your arrhythmia (slow or rapid heartbeat) your doctor may use one or more of the following tests:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Holter monitor
  • Insertable cardiac monitoring system
  • Echocardiogram
  • Angiography

Electrophysiological Study (EPS)

Cardiology & Electrophysiology is the medical specialty that is responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders or arrhythmias. These involve both the fast rhythms of the heart or tachycardia and the slow rhythms called bradycardia.

It is important to treat even a benign arrhythmia in a patient with a normal heart condition as it may lead to an abnormal heart condition, which may then develop to a heart condition and can diminish your quality of life (generate anxiety or may even limit lifespan. Benign arrhythmias may have serious consequences if not properly treated in a patient with a heart condition. Malignant arrhythmias can lead to sudden cardiac death if the correct treatment is not applied.

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Treatment depends on the type of arrhythmia you have. Some mild arrhythmias do not require treatment. Often, certain lifestyle changes, such as avoiding exciting foods (alcohol, coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate), are enough to minimize arrhythmia. In other cases, one of the following available treatments may be considered:

  • Antiarrhythmic medication, to prevent tachycardia episodes.
  • Radiofrequency ablation, which uses heat to destroy the problem area.
  • Cryoablation
  • Cardioversion (electric shock delivered to the heart) while sedated, or with medications, to reset an abnormal heart rhythm back to normal.
  • Implanting a pacemaker. This is a device that goes under the skin and has one or more leads to the heart. They allow the stimulation of the heart and are a treatment option for important bradyarrhythmias (very slow heart rate).
  • Implanting an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator). It continuously monitors the heart rhythm 24 hours a day and automatically delivers therapies to correct dangerous fast heart rhythms.

IMPLANTABLE DEVICES FOR THE TREATMENTOF BRADYCARDIA


A traditional pacemaker is a device that is implanted under the skin, typically just below the collarbone. The device delivers therapies to treat irregular, interrupted or slow heartbeats.

Leads are thin, soft, insulated wires about the size of a spaghetti noodle. The leads carry the electrical impulse from the pacemaker to your heart and relay information about the heart’s natural activity back to your pacemaker.

The procedure to implant a pacemaker does not require open heart surgery, and most people go home within 24 hours. Before the implant procedure, medication may be given to make you sleepy and comfortable. Generally, the procedure is performed under local anesthesia.

You may notice a small lump under the skin where the pacemaker is implanted.

Mobile devices are safe to use as long as you maintain proper distance between them and your pacemaker. When using a cell phone, tablet computer or other mobile device, keep the device 6 inches/15 centimeters from your pacemaker as it could create interference. It is recommended to use your phone on the ear opposite your pacemaker and to avoid placing the cell phone
in a pocket near your pacemaker.

Yes. Most household appliances are safe to use as long as they are properly maintained and in good working order. This includes microwave ovens, major appliances, electric blankets, and heating pads.

Products that contain magnets, such as magnetic therapy products, stereo speakers, and hand-held massagers can temporarily affect the operation of the pacemaker. Therefore, it is recommended you keep items containing magnets at least 15 centimeters (6 inches) away from your pacemaker. We do not recommend the use of magnetic mattress pads and pillows because it is difficult to maintain a 15 centimeters (6 inches) distance when using these items.

Given the short duration of security screening, it is unlikely that your pacemaker will be affected by metal detectors or full body imaging scanners such as those found in airports. To minimize the risk of temporary interference with the pacemaker while going through the security screening process, avoid touching metal surfaces around any screening equipment. Do not stop or linger in a walk-through archway; simply walk through the archway at a normal pace. If a hand-held wand is used, ask the security operator not to hold it over your pacemaker and not to wave it back and forth over your pacemaker.

You may also request a hand search as an alternative. If you have concerns about these security screening methods, show your device identification card and follow the instructions of the security personnel

Most or all activities can be resumed after recovering from an implant procedure. However, there may be certain activities your doctor will ask you to avoid, like rough contact sports.

Be sure to discuss your activity and lifestyle goals with your doctor to find a plan that works best for you.

IMPLANTABLE DEVICES FOR THE TREATMENTOF TACHYCARDIA


When people refer to an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, they are referring to the system – the defibrillator and the leads.

    • A pulse generator (defibrillator) works like a small computer – and continuously monitors the heart and automatically delivers electrical pulses or shocks to correct fast heart rhythms. It is a small device about the size of a matchbox and is usually inserted just under your collarbone.
    • Leads are thin soft insulated wires about the size of a spaghetti noodle. They are placed in your heart through a vein and are connected to the defibrillator. Leads carry the electrical impulse from the defibrillator to your heart and relay information about the heart’s natural activity back to the defibrillator.

If your doctor suggested you need an ICD, you may have experienced or are at risk of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), known as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. These potentially fatal fast rhythms can cause a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), which can lead to death if not treated immediately.

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator is designed to monitor your heart rhythm 24 hours a day. If your heart is beating too fast or irregularly, the device will first send small painless electrical signals to correct your heart rate. If the fast heart rate continues, the defibrillator will deliver a shock to restore your heart to a normal rate. The implantable defibrillator can also be used for slow heart rhythms by sending electrical impulses to the heart to correct it. Your doctor will program the ICD to deliver the most effective therapies for your heart condition.

A defibrillator implant procedure does not require open heart surgery and most people return to their homes in less than 24 hours. Before surgery, you may be given medications to make you feel numb and comfortable. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia.

The implant procedure includes the following general steps:

A small incision, approximately 5 to 10cm long, will be made in your upper chest area, just below your collarbone

One or two leads will be guided through a vein into your heart, and the leads will be connected to the implantable cardioverter defibrillator

  • A single chamber ICD means you have one lead inserted into the lower right chamber (ventricle) of the heart
  • A dual chamber ICD means that you also have a lead inserted into the upper right chamber (atrium) of the heart

The pulse generator (defibrillator) will be inserted beneath your skin, and the incision in your chest will be closed.

When people refer to a cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device, they are actually discussing the system – the CRT device and the leads.

  • A CRT device is a device implanted under the skin, typically just below the collarbone. The device delivers therapies to coordinate the heart’s pumping action and treats fast, irregular or slow heart rhythms depending on the type of CRT device. This device may also be referred to as a heart failure device, a pacemaker for heart failure, biventricular device, three-lead CRT device, CRT-P (pacemaker) or a CRT-D (defibrillator).
  • Leads are thin, soft insulated wires about the size of a spaghetti noodle. The leads carry the electrical impulse from the CRT device to your heart and relay information about the heart’s activity back to the CRT device.

You can resume most or all activities after recovering from an implant procedure. However, there may be certain activities your doctor will ask you to avoid, like rough contact sports. Be sure to discuss your activity and lifestyle goals with your doctor to find a plan that works best for you.

It is unlikely that the Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) will be affected by metal detectors (walk-through archways and hand-held wands) or full body imaging scanners (also called millimeter wave scanners and 3D imaging scanners) such as those found in airports.

To minimize the risk of temporary interference with your ICD while going through the security screening process, do not stop or linger in a walk-through archway; simply walk through the archway at a normal pace. If a hand-held wand is used, ask the security operator not to hold it over your implantable defibrillator and not to wave it back and forth over your ICD. You may also request a hand search as an alternative.

If you have concerns about these security screening methods, show your device identification card, request alternative screening, and then follow the instructions of the security personnel.

While most electromagnetic fields in the home environment rarely affect the operation of an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, it is recommended you keep items containing magnets at least 15 centimeters (6 inches) away from your implanted device.

Before undergoing any medical procedure, always tell your doctor, dentist or technician that you have an implanted heart device. They may need to talk to your cardiologist before performing the procedure, especially if the procedure is new or rare. Some procedures could potentially affect the function of your cardiac device, and such procedures may require precautionary measures to prevent or minimize any impact on you or your device.

When discussing with your doctor, you may want to use this document to help guide the conversation

When discussing with your doctor, you may want to use this document to help guide the conversation

Take care of your heartbeat is an educational initiative designed to inform people about heart rhythm disorders. It is brought to you by Medtronic.
Information on this site does not constitute medical advice.
Always consult with your physician about treatment options and if you have any questions or concerns about your health.

Last updated March 2021

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    TERMS AND CONDITIONS

    Information on this site does not constitute medical advice. Ask your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.