Heart Rhythm Disorders (Arrhythmia)

Need Arrhythmia Treatment Near Anaheim, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach or Irvine?

Looking for the most advanced care for irregular heart rhythm in Orange County? You’ll find it right here at Hoag.

At Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute’s Heart Rhythm Program, our multidisciplinary team of cardiac specialists is changing the way modern medicine treats complex arrhythmias, delivering the latest technologies and leading-edge treatments that change lives.

With decades of experience in arrhythmia diagnosis and management, Hoag is the area’s recognized leader in arrhythmia treatment, with a system-wide focus on delivering compassionate care and patient outcomes that meet or exceed national averages.

Read on to learn more about arrhythmia conditions, their causes and how they are diagnosed and treated. If you need a heart rhythm specialist or have further questions, contact Hoag’s Heart Rhythm Program by calling 949-764-8111 or send a note to our team through our form

What is Heart Rhythm (Arrhythmia)?

Heart rhythm disorder, also referred to as arrhythmia, is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions involving an irregular or abnormal heart rhythm.

Arrhythmia occurs when the heart’s electrical system or the electrical signals that control the steady, even rhythm of a properly-functioning heart are hindered or malfunction. This can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, where the heart beats too fast, too slow or irregularly, or problems with coordination between the different chambers of the heart. 

Arrhythmias can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, and should be treated as a medical emergency if you aren’t already under the care of a physician. Certain types of arrhythmias can lead to or contribute to a range of serious medical issues, including chest pain, stroke, cardiac arrest and sudden death. Arrhythmia can also be an indicator of serious underlying conditions, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.

Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, is the most common type of arrhythmia, and is caused by a disruption of the electrical signals that control the activity of the heart’s upper chambers. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 454,000 Americans are hospitalized with AFib each year in the U.S.

Heart Arrhythmia Symptoms

The symptoms of arrhythmia can vary depending on the severity and type of cardiac arrhythmia you are experiencing. These symptoms can range from barely noticeable to debilitating and life-threatening. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of arrhythmia early, as heart rhythm disorders may be a sign of a more serious condition and can lead to sudden cardiac death in some cases.

Common arrhythmia symptoms may include:

  • Heart palpitations, which are an irregular heart rhythm that may feel pounding, fluttering or rapid heartbeats
  • A racing or skipping heartbeat
  • An abnormally slow heart rhythm

Symptoms of more serious arrhythmias may include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Blood clots and stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack and sudden death

Next-Generation Cardiac Arrhythmia Services & Management in Orange County?

At Hoag, our Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart and Vascular Institute’s Heart Rhythm Program stands as a beacon of compassion, innovation and excellence in heart health, providing next-generation diagnosis and care for those who need arrhythmia treatment in Orange County, California.

Every day, our world-class team of electrophysiologists, cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and other professionals are unified in one mission: to provide patients facing chronic arrhythmias the most advanced diagnosis and treatment options, helping restore more normal heart rhythms and get back on the road to health.

Hoag’s commitment to delivering the highest-quality procedures, backed by our state-of-the-art facilities and world-class, board-certified cardiology and cardiovascular surgery team, sets us apart. Hoag’s Heart Rhythm Program is dedicated to enhancing heart health and providing personalized, empathetic care to patients in communities across Orange County, including Newport Beach, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Fullerton and Irvine.

Visit here to meet Hoag’s team of dedicated, patient-focused cardiologists, electrophysiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and more.

What are the Different Types of Cardiac Arrhythmias?

Heart arrhythmia is not a one-size-fits-all condition. There are several types of arrhythmias, each with its own symptoms and characteristics.

How arrhythmias are categorized depends on several factors, including which part of the heart tissue is involved, whether abnormal heart rhythms involve a fast, slow or irregular heartbeat, and whether the arrhythmia occurs in the heart’s two upper chambers (the atria) or the two bottom chambers of the heart (the ventricles).

In general, there are three categories of arrhythmias. They are:

Arrhythmias That Can Result in a Fast, Slow or Irregular Heartbeat

Some arrhythmias cause the heart to beat too slow, too fast or in an abnormal rhythm. Types that fall into this category include:

  • Tachycardia: Tachycardia is characterized by a fast resting heart rate of more than 100 heart beats per minute even if you haven’t exerted yourself. Those with tachycardia may also experience an irregular heartbeat.
  • Premature or “extra” heartbeat: This common form of abnormal heart rhythm occurs when the electrical system that controls the heart triggers a beat to come too early. When this happens, it feels like a “skipped beat,” followed by a stronger beat. Following this pause, the heart sometimes returns to its regular rhythm.
  • Bradycardia: Bradycardia (“slow heartbeat”) is a condition characterized by a normal resting heart rate that is very slow. Those with Bradycardia often have a resting heart rate of 60 beats per minute or less. Slow heartbeat can be caused by old age, electrolyte imbalances, certain medications or issues with the function of the thyroid. However, many people who are younger or very physically fit may have a low resting heart rate, so bradycardia isn’t always a cause for alarm. However, if you have a slower-than-normal heart rate, be sure to see your doctor to make sure it isn’t a sign of a more serious condition.
  • Heart block: a heart block is a type of arrhythmia characterized by a slow heart beat due to a slowing down of electrical signals as they pass between the atria and the ventricles. There are three types of heart block, from first degree heart block (which doesn’t usually cause noticeable symptoms) to third-degree heart block (complete atrioventricular block) in which electrical impulses are totally prevented from reaching the ventricles.
  • Sick sinus syndrome: Sick sinus syndrome is a type of arrhythmia that occurs when the sinus node, the heart’s natural pacemaker, malfunctions. Sinus node dysfunction usually impacts those over age 65. Sick sinus syndrome can result in a drastically slowed heart rate, which can lead to fatigue, dizziness and fainting.
Supraventricular Arrhythmias

Supraventricular arrhythmias begin in the atria, which are the upper chambers of the heart. Types of supraventricular arrhythmias include:

  • Atrial flutter: Atrial flutter is a type of supraventricular arrhythmia characterized by a rapid heartbeat of up to 350 beats per minute. As the name suggests, atrial flutter can result in heart palpitations that feel like the heart is fluttering in the chest. Atrial flutter is often caused by the tissue that conducts the signal that tells the atria to expand and contract being damaged or hindered by scar tissue. This can result in the upper and lower chambers of the heart beating at different rates, which can hinder the healthy pumping of blood to the body.
  • Atrial fibrillation: Atrial fibrillation, also called “Afib,” usually causes the heart to beat extremely rapidly, and is the most common type of arrhythmia. According to the CDC, over 2.5 million people in the U.S. have the condition. During an AFib episode, patients can sometimes experience a heartbeat faster than 300 beats per minute, and the heart’s lower and upper chambers don’t coordinate as they should. One result of this can be that the heart doesn’t fill with blood as it should, which can result in the heart not pumping enough blood to supply the body. Afib can also significantly increase a person’s risk of experiencing blood clots. Atrial fibrillation episodes of up to 24 hours may occur off and on (paroxysmal atrial fibrillation), or may last for longer periods. When an episode of atrial fibrillation lasts more than seven days, it’s known as persistent atrial fibrillation.
  • Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT): Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) is a condition characterized by having “extra heartbeats” — also known as premature atrial contractions. The extra beats that are a hallmark of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia are usually due to an issue with the electrical signals that coordinate the contraction and expansion of the lower and upper chambers of the heart. Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia episodes can begin and end suddenly, often after strenuous exercise or physical activity. While supraventricular tachycardia usually isn’t dangerous and can even happen to those with young and healthy hearts, be sure to see your doctor after any episode involving the sudden onset of irregular heartbeats.
Ventricular Arrhythmias

Ventricular arrhythmias are the most dangerous type of arrhythmias. As the name implies, ventricular arrhythmias involve an issue impacting the electrical impulses that control the normal rhythm in the ventricles, which are the heart’s lower chambers. Ventricular arrhythmias are usually considered life-threatening heart rhythms, and can lead to serious medical emergencies including stroke, heart attack, blood clots and sudden death.

Types of ventricular arrhythmias include:

  • Premature Ventricular Contractions: Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVC) are the least-serious type of ventricular arrhythmia. Premature ventricular contractions occur when the heart’s lower chambers contract too soon, putting them out of sync with the rest of the heart, interrupting the heart’s normal rhythm and compromising the heart’s ability to efficiently pump blood.
  • Ventricular tachycardia: Ventricular tachycardia is characterized by an episode of fast, regular beats centered in the ventricles. Ventricular tachycardia is usually caused by an issue with the electrical signals that travel from the upper chambers to the lower chambers and coordinate the pumping action of the heart. Episodes of ventricular tachycardia can last for only a few beats before returning to a normal heart rhythm, or may go on for longer. While a short episode of ventricular tachycardia usually isn’t dangerous or life-threatening, longer episodes are considered a medical emergency and may lead to more serious cardiac issues, including ventricular fibrillation (v-fib).
  • Ventricular fibrillation: Sometimes caused by ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, also known as “v-fib,” is an electrical issue that makes the lower chambers of the heart and the heart muscle quiver instead of pumping blood as it should. Because ventricular fibrillation can interrupt the heart’s ability to pump blood and restrict blood flow to the body and brain, ventricular fibrillation can cause cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death in a very short amount of time.

What is the Most Serious Type of Arrhythmia?

Among the various types of arrhythmias, ventricular fibrillation (v-fib) is considered the most serious. It can disrupt the effective pumping of blood by the heart, leading to sudden cardiac arrest and death if not treated immediately. This type of arrhythmia requires urgent medical attention and is often treated with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

What is the Most Common Type of Arrhythmia?

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia. It affects millions globally every year, and is characterized by a very rapid heartbeat. While usually not life threatening by itself, Afib can raise the risk of blood clots and stroke if not managed properly. Afib is also often a symptom of serious underlying health problems, including high blood pressure, undiagnosed sleep apnea, electrolyte imbalances, coronary artery disease, heart disease, disruption of the electrical signals that control the heart’s natural pacemaker (the sinus node) and other issues.

Hoag is a national teaching center for Convergent Ablation, an advanced treatment technique for difficult-to-control arrhythmias that combines catheter ablation and surgical ablation. Visit this link to read the story of Lynda, a patient whose life was changed by Hoag cardiothoracic surgeons utilizing this groundbreaking technique for atrial fibrillation.

Explore Hoag’s Range of Cardiac Arrhythmia Services

Orange County residents deserve the best in cardiac arrhythmia care, and at Hoag, that’s exactly what they’ll get. Our state-of-the-art Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute is committed to delivering the most advanced diagnostic options for arrhythmia patients in Irvine, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Laguna Hills.

A key facet of Hoag’s top-rated Heart Rhythm Program and the first of its kind in Orange County, Hoag’s Allan & Sandy Fainbarg Electrophysiology Cath Lab Suite is a comfortable, professional and patient-focused hub for the less-invasive, catheter-delivered diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmias and other serious cardiac conditions.

There’s just nothing like it in the area. That’s the level of treatment our neighbors deserve, and what we deliver every day. Explore more advanced diagnostic options for arrhythmia at Hoag.

Who is Most at Risk to Develop Arrhythmia?

Those with existing cardiovascular conditions like heart disease or heart failure are at higher risk of developing arrhythmias.

Other risk factors for arrhythmia include:

  • Having high blood pressure
  • Being obese
  • Having diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Untreated sleep apnea
  • Excessive alcohol use

Is There Any Way to Prevent Myself From Developing Atrial Fibrillation?

  • Don’t smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular exercise
  • Control your stress levels
  • Seek treatment if you have sleep apnea
  • Don’t drink alcohol to excess
  • Seek immediate treatment for any issues involving irregular heart rhythms or disruptions of the heart’s electrical activity

Need Arrhythmia Treatment in Anaheim, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach or Irvine?

Looking for the most advanced care for irregular heart rhythm in Orange County? You’ll find it right here at Hoag. 

Hoag is a recognized leader in the use of implantable devices to control serious cardiac conditions. For example, Hoag was one of the first cardiac treatment centers in the U.S. to implant AVEIR™ DR by Abbott™, the world’s first leadless, dual-chamber pacemaker. Visit this link to learn more about a lifelong athlete who got back in the swing of things thanks to Hoag and this next-generation implantable device.

As a high-volume treatment center, the cardiovascular team at Hoag has the experience to diagnose even rare arrhythmias, and the advanced treatments you need to help get your life back. So if you’re dealing with cardiac arrhythmia in Orange County, don’t wait. There’s help, hope and healing at Hoag.

Visit our arrhythmia treatment page or heart rhythm diagnosis and testing page to learn more. 

Contact Hoag’s Heart Rhythm Program by calling 949-764-8111 or through our form.

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