At the Maryland Heart Center we offer a wide range of treatment options for
arrhythmias. The treatments we provide depend on the type of arrhythmia, the
symptoms that the patient experiences, and the risk of the arrhythmia to the
patient’s prognosis. These treatments may include alterations in life-style,
medications, a catheter-based procedure to alter the electric properties of
the heart (an ablation), a surgical treatment, or implantation of a pacemaker
Some mild arrhythmias require no treatment. Other arrhythmias can be treated
with medicines, or potentially cured with an ablation. If another health problem
is causing the arrhythmia, treatment is aimed at taking care of that problem.
In more serious cases, other treatments are available.
We are also conducting research on new and experimental treatment methods that
may prove to be more effective than current options.
Medications: We use a wide variety of medicines, including those
that control heart rate and rhythm disturbances (anti-arrhythmia drugs). We
specialize in these drugs, and have expertise and experience with all anti-arrhythmia
drugs currently available in the U.S.
Ablation: This procedure
uses energy to eliminate the tissue in the heart that is causing the arrhythmia.
The abnormal electrical tissue is identified during an electrophysiology study
-- a procedure that uses a catheter and a device for mapping the electrical
pathways of the heart. In special cases, the heart can be reconstructed in
3 dimensions to allow for precise positioning of the catheters. Many arrhytmias
can be eliminated using this treatment (see list below).
After you are given medicine to relax you, a catheter is inserted into a vein
and guided to your heart. Using high-frequency radio waves, or severe cold,
doctors can destroy (ablate) the tissue causing the arrhythmia.
Implantation of Permanent Pacemaker or Internal Cardioverter Defibrillator: A permanent pacemaker is inserted to provide a reliable heartbeat when the
heart's own rhythm is too slow. An internal cardioverter/defibrillator is
inserted in patients who are at risk for life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias.
Advanced Pacing Devices for Heart Failure: We are now treating patients
who have significant heart failure with special pacemakers and defibrillators.
We implant defibrillators and pacemakers that have the ability to pace the
heart in special ways to help alleviate the heart failure symptoms (Bi-ventricular
Cardioversion for Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter: Cardioversion
is the procedure of applying electrical shock to the chest to change an abnormal
heartbeat into a normal one.
Currently, treatment of atrial fibrillation is aimed at preventing strokes
and improving symptoms. The fast heart rates can be controlled with either medication
or placement of a pacemaker after modification of the conduction system in the
heart. In many patients, atrial fibrillation can be cured by electrically modifying
specific areas of the heart with a catheter.
In rare cases where these therapies don't work and there are debilitating symptoms,
the heart can be modified by a surgical procedure during which certain areas
are frozen. This surgery, called the cryoMaze procedure, can restore a regular
coordinated heartbeat, and can restore coordinated pumping from the upper chambers
of the heart. Click here for
more information about the cryoMaze procedure.
Please call if you would like to make an
appointment or talk to someone about our services. Patients dial 1-866-408-6885, physicians dial 410-328-6622 or 1-800-318-1019.