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Research & Innovation

Arrhythmias: Electrical Problems in the Heart

February 2, 2022

Poster for video

An arrhythmia is a disturbance in the rhythm of the heartbeat, whether it’s beating too hard, too fast—or skipping beats. This condition can be caused by problems with the heart’s electrical system.

Much like how faulty wiring in a home could lead to short circuits, an arrhythmia can cause the heart to race so fast that it might suddenly stop. One particular kind of arrhythmia is called atrial fibrillation, in which there are abnormal electrical impulses in the top chambers of the heart.

People with atrial fibrillation often feel like their heart is “skipping,” or beating erratically. They might also experience fatigue and feel unable to do regular activities. Fortunately, a procedure called ablation has revolutionized how atrial fibrillation is treated.

In this video, Joseph Akar, MD, PhD, director of the Cardiac Electrophysiology Program, discusses arrhythmias in general and how ablation works.