You can reset your heart rhythm through cardioversion, which is used to restore a normal heart rhythm in people with an abnormal heartbeat. Cardioversion can be done through either medications or surgical intervention.
When would you need to reset your heart rhythm?
Resetting your heart rhythm may be required if you have atrial fibrillation, which is a condition in which your heart rate becomes irregular due to problems in the upper chambers (atria) of the heart.
While not everyone with atrial fibrillation needs to reset their heart rhythm, some people require treatment in order to prevent stroke due to atrial fibrillation.
Most of the time, atrial fibrillation does not cause symptoms. If the signs and symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
- Bulging eyes
- Cold feet or hands
If you do not have any of these symptoms and there is no problem in the pumping action of your heart, your doctor may not recommend treatments to reset your heart rhythm.
What treatments can reset your heart rhythm?
Before trying procedures such as electrical cardioversion, your doctor may try to reset your heart rhythm in other ways.
One method is the Valsalva maneuver, which requires you to hold your breath for some time so that pressure rises in your abdomen and your heart rate goes down. Your doctor then administers medications to restore the normal rhythm of the heart.
Your doctor will check if you have other symptoms along with an irregular heartbeat and whether your condition increases your risk of developing other serious heart issues.
Medications prescribed for irregular heart rates associated with tachycardia include those that help control heart rate and restore a normal heart rhythm. Examples include sotalol, flecainide, and amiodarone.
For atrial fibrillation, blood thinners (such as warfarin) may be prescribed. These medications reduce the risk of developing blood clots, which may result in cardiac arrest.
Emergency management of irregular heartbeats includes:
- Cardioversion: This procedure involves delivering electric currents to your heart through paddles or patches on your chest. This is often the first recommended step if other procedures such as the Valsalva maneuver fail.
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): In the case of cardiac arrest, your doctor will perform chest compression, often administered in combination with artificial ventilation. This is often followed by defibrillation.
- Radiofrequency catheter ablation: A catheter is inserted into the heart through a vein to destroy tissues causing abnormal heart rhythms by emitting high-frequency electric currents. In some cases, the procedure can cure the disease without the need for any other supportive treatment.
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): An ICD is a small pager-sized device placed under the skin of your chest. The device detects abnormal heart rhythm and delivers electric signals that restores a normal rhythm.
- Maze procedure: This surgical procedure involves making several incisions in your heart to form scar tissue, which helps stop the abnormal conduction of signals within the heart.
- Treatment of underlying diseases: Irregular heartbeats could be caused by other health issues, such as coronary heart disease. If this is the case, your doctor will also treat the underlying health issue. In the case of severe coronary artery disease, your doctor may perform bypass surgery to remove blockages (plaques) from the coronary artery to improve the blood flow to your heart.
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