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What is Cardiac Arrhythmia? - Types, Causes & Diagnosis


Cardiac Arrhythmia is a serious but treatable condition. It occurs when the electrical impulses which coordinate heartbeats malfunction, thus causing the heart to beat too quickly or slowly.

There are various types of Arrhythmias, e.g. Paroxysmal Supra-Ventricular Tachycardia [PSVT], Atrial Flutter, Atrial Fibrillation, Ventricular Tachycardia, and Ventricular Fibrillation.

Arrhythmias are caused by various factors, including Hypertension, Ischemic heart disease, Valvular heart disease, Cardiomyopathies, Sinus node disease, Tumors, Pericarditis, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Thyroid Disease, alcohol abuse, Vagal stimulation, smoking, and other modern day lifestyles that have adverse health effects.

Our doctors order specific tests to diagnose an arrhythmia, depending on which type of arrhythmia is suspected. In addition to the blood tests, a doctor may order:


Electrocardiogram / Echocardiogram.

A 24 hour electrocardiogram is performed with a Holter monitor.

Electrophysiology Studies (EP Diagnostic Studies) helps pinpoint the origin of the rhythm disorder and ascertain the best treatment.


Electrophysiology [EP] Study

A specialized procedure, the EP Study is conducted by the Electrophysiologist. One or several catheters (thin, flexible wires) are inserted into a blood vessel (usually the groin) and guided into the heart. Each catheter contains two or more electrodes to measure electrical signals in the heart, as they travel from one chamber to another.

EP studies are done to diagnose any cardiac rhythm abnormalities. They help surgeons to ascertain the best method of treatment, and to pinpoint any sites where therapy may be useful.


Radiofrequency [RF] Catheter Ablation

After an EP study, the RF catheter is inserted into a blood vessel and guided into the heart to locate the origin of the abnormal electrical signals. The catheter can deliver a low-voltage, high-frequency current to destroy the heart tissue causing the arrhythmia. Most of the patients who undergo catheter ablation experience either a reversion to their normal heart rhythm, or a decrease in the frequency of arrhythmia episodes and a reduction in the severity of the symptoms.

3D Mapping System [Carto 3]

We are the first hospital in the nation to obtain the latest 3D mapping technology in arrhythmia management. The CARTO 3 System allows a three-dimensional view of the patient's heart, thus enabling the Electrophysiologist to determine the site of origin of the abnormal rhythm accurately and administer the Radiofrequency catheter ablation therapy with high success rates.

The benefits of the curative catheter ablation therapy include:

  • Better Quality of Care: catheter ablation therapy cures most cardiac arrhythmias , thus preventing the necessity of life-long therapy.
  • Patients enjoy a higher quality of life
  • Patients with some life-threatening Ventricular Arrhythmias can potentially be cured
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Lower risks of complications


Common Arrhythmias Treated With RF Ablation:


Supraventricular Tachycardia:

Paroxysmal Supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) involves the rapid beating of heart from the upper chambers. Common forms include atrioventricular node re-entry (AVNRT), atrioventricular re-entry (AVRT), and focal atrial tachycardia.


Atrial Flutter:

Atrial flutter (AFL) involves the rapid beating (close to 300 beats a minute) of the upper chambers (the atria). AFL can also cause the pooling of blood in the atria, leading to an increased risk of blood clot formation and strokes.


Atrial Fibrillation:

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common heart rhythm disorder that involves the chaotic quivering of the upper chambers of the heart (the atria). This lowers the heart’s efficiency, while increasing the heat rate. Furthermore, AF causes blood to pool in parts of the atria, thus increasing the risk of blood clots forming, which potentially causes strokes.


Ventricular Tachycardia:

Ventricular tachycardia (VT) involves the rapid beating of the two lower chambers of the heart, and can be life-threatening if not treated.


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Mr. Amos Karanja, Kenya

Mr. Amos Karanja came to Apollo Hospitals from Kenya after friends recommended him regarding his heart condition.