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Abnormal Heart Rhythm

Specialized Care for Arrhythmia

Heart rhythm experts at University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute specialize in evaluating and treating patients with a range of heart rhythm disorders, such as atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib), a leading cause of stroke.

Heart rhythm problems or arrhythmias occur when the electrical signals that regulate your heartbeat don’t work correctly, causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.

At UH, our highly specialized board-certified electrophysiologists diagnose and treat any type of irregular heartbeat, including:

  • Atrial fibrillation: The most common type of irregular heartbeat that can interrupt the normal flow of blood and lead to blood clots and stroke
  • Atrial flutter: A rapid and irregular heartbeat, whether in rhythm or speed
  • Bradycardia: A slow heart rate
  • Bundle branch block: A condition in which there’s a delay or obstruction along the pathway that electrical impulses travel to make the heart beat regularly
  • Premature beat or contraction: An early heartbeat that disrupts the heart’s rhythm
  • Sudden cardiac arrest: A condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating
  • Syncope: Fainting
  • Tachycardia: A fast heart rate
  • Ventricular fibrillation: The most serious heart rhythm issue when the lower chambers of the heart quiver and are unable to pump blood, causing cardiac arrest

Many factors can affect your heart’s rhythm, such as a history of heart attack, smoking, heart defects, stress or heavy alcohol consumption. For any heart rhythm issues, it is important to see an electrophysiologist with the experience and expertise to diagnose and treat your specific heart rhythm issues.

Innovative Technology for Diagnosis and Treatment of Irregular Heartbeat Rhythms

Our specialized heart team uses the most advanced technology available to diagnose and assess an irregular heartbeat in patients, including:

  • 3-D mapping systems: Using advanced mapping technology, our electrophysiologists can track the exact location and movement of catheters for the evaluation of your heart’s electrical activity.
  • Cardiac computed tomography (CT) scans: An advanced cardiac CT scan allows our team to take many detailed pictures of your heart, using x-rays to capture these pictures while your heart is beating.
  • Intracardiac echocardiography (ICE): For advanced monitoring and real-time three-dimensional imaging, this technology is used to prepare and guide interventional procedures.
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A specialized MRI of the heart produces detailed pictures of your heart’s anatomy or structure to evaluate issues and function.
  • Stereotactic magnetic navigation: Used for the accurate diagnosis and treatment of heart arrhythmias, this advanced imaging is used to guide catheters into the hard to reach areas of the heart.
  • Electrophysiology study: A test that records the electrical activity and electrical pathways of your heart. This test is used to help reveal the cause of a patient’s arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) and to determine the best course of treatment.

We offer patients the latest and best technology and treatment methods. Using a personalized approach to care, your arrhythmia treatment to restore a normal heart rhythm may include medications, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator or advanced technology pacemaker, or sometimes surgery.

Innovative Research Leads to Advances in Care

Through a strategic focus on research and discovery to improve care, our multi-disciplinary team uses a variety of advanced surgical and minimally invasive therapies with tremendous success.

Our heart specialists are directly involved with developing more advanced catheter ablation therapies, a procedure that guides a wire to the heart and uses heat or cold energy to destroy abnormal heart tissue that may be causing irregular heartbeats. As one of the few medical centers in the world to use a new, minimally invasive implantable device to treat life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia (VT), University Hospitals is paving the way for improved interventions in the future.

Our commitment to exceptional patient care begins with these revolutionary medical discoveries. With a focus on leading-edge scientific research and ongoing clinical trials, our experts move efficiently from the research stage to patient care improvements. Current electrophysiology clinical trials involve innovative treatments for patients with abnormal heart rhythm and heart failure.

Collaboration with Center for Cardiovascular Genetics for Congenital Heart Rhythm Conditions

With specialized cardiovascular genetics services, our team collaborates with adult and pediatric electrophysiologists, geneticists and genetic counselors. The center offers clinical screening, genetic testing and treatment for inherited arrhythmia syndromes such as:

  • Long QT syndrome (LQTS): Causing fast chaotic heartbeats, this congenital heart rhythm issue is treatable with the proper diagnosis.
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia/cardiomyopathy (ARVD/C): A rare form of cardiomyopathy, the right ventricle is dilated and contracts poorly due to the presence of fibrous tissue.
  • Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT): Generally occurring during exercise or stressful situations, CPVT is a rare genetic disorder that results in an abnormal heart rhythm in patients with a structurally normal heart.