Arrhythmias
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Atrial Fibrillation
Heart's Electrical System
Normal Heartbeat
Ventricular Fibrillation
Pacemaker
Picture of Pacemaker Installed
Electrical Cardioversion


ATRIAL FIBRILLATION

Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heartbeat (heart rate). A normal heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats a minute at rest. With atrial fibrillation it can be over 140 beats a minute (you can measure your heart rate by feeling the pulse in your neck or wrist). Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia in the United States, affecting between 5 and 10 percent of all Americans over 65. In most cases it is not life threatening but it can be distressing and uncomfortable. It nearly always needs some form of treatment.


HEART'S ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

How The Heart Beats
Diagram of The Heart's Electrical System


NORMAL HEARTBEAT

Diagram of A Normal Heartbeat

It begins when a small cluster of cells called the sinus node sends an electrical signal (1). The signal then travels through the atria and passes through another group of cells called the atrioventricular node (2). From the atrioventricular node, the signal travels through the ventricles (3), causing them to expand and pump blood out. After this, the process starts all over again (4).


VENTRICULAR FIBRILLATION


Highly lethal, ventricular fibrillation (VF or v-fib for short) occurs when disorganized electrical signals cause the ventricles in the heart to quiver rather than pump. As there is no pumping action, after a few minutes the heart ceases to function and the person dies of sudden cardiac arrest.


PACEMAKER DEVICE

 

Diagram of a Pacemaker In a Woman
An artificial pacemaker is a medical device which is implanted under the skin of the chest and is used to replace the heart's natural pacemaker. It helps to regulate a person's heart rhythm. If it detects that the heart is beating too slow it will emit small impulses to tell the heart to beat faster, thus preventing a person experiencing blackouts or dizziness. Pacemakers can have one or more leads.

Picture of Pacemaker After Installation

 

Picture of Pacemaker Before Installation


ELECTRICAL CARDIOVERSION

Electrical Cardioversion:

Cardioversion is a medical term to describe the restoration of normal heart rhythm. This can be done chemically with drugs or electrically with an electric shock. It is used to treat certain types of persistent irregular heartbeats. If your doctor recommends electric shock this procedure will be carried out in hospital. Electric currents are applied with a pad to the chest to shock the heart cells into contracting at the same time. This should stop abnormal electrical signals and a normal heartbeat should resume. 90 percent of cases are successful. About 50 percent of people who have this procedure relapse within a year so it may have to be repeated.

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WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT ARRHYTHMIAS
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