Heart Arrhythmia

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
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Why Yale Medicine?
  • We use the most up-to-date equipment for performing ablation, including real-time X-ray monitoring during surgery so tissue is removed precisely and selectively.
  • Our doctors are leading researchers in their fields.
  • Our doctors participate in clinical trials which allows them to offer state-of-the-art therapies and procedures to patients.

The rhythm of the heart is normally controlled by its natural pacemaker (the sinus node), which produces electrical impulses that create the heartbeat. A normal, healthy heart beats about 60 to 100 times per minute, depending on what a person is doing. However, when electrical abnormalities cause abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmia, you may experience palpitations, which feel like the heart is skipping, fluttering, or beating too hard or too fast. A person suffering from arrhythmia can feel these sensations in the chest, throat, or neck.  Very severe heart rhythm abnormalities may cause fainting.

While heart arrhythmias can be due to a variety of conditions, doctors at Yale Medicine are experts at diagnosing and treating the underlying causes. “We offer a number of state of the art treatments including medications, lifestyle treatments and the ablation procedure,” which is removal of tissue causing the problem, says Rachel Lampert, MD, professor of Cardiology at Yale Medicine.

There are several types of arrhythmia, classified by the speed of the heartbeat. 

Tachycardia is a fast heartbeat—greater than 100 beats a minute when the body is at rest. Some forms of tachycardia include atrial arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation or supraventricular arrhythmia; sinus tachycardia, in which the heart’s natural pacemaker goes too fast; or the most serious form, ventricular arrhythmia, which can cause cardiac arrest.

Bradycardia is a slow heartbeat—less than 60 beats a minute at rest. Bradycardia can be due to sick sinus syndrome or conduction block.

Extra beats can also be experienced as an irregular pulse or palpitations.

Another type of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation, which is when there is an abnormal firing of electrical impulses in the top chambers of the heart. This causes the muscles of the heart to quiver. 

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.