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What is Arrhythmia?

Arrythmia is any problem related to heart rhythm, including irregular heartbeat patterns. The heart is an elegant and complex organ that relies on an electrical system to coordinate heartbeats. Arrhythmia happens when this system malfunctions and it causes the heart to pump less efficiently.

Simply put, arrhythmia is the medical term for an irregular heartbeat. With arrhythmia, the patient’s heart can beat too fast (a.k.a. tachycardia), too slowly (a.k.a. bradycardia) or it may also beat with an irregular rhythm. As a result, you may experience palpitations (heart skipping), shortness of breath or fatigue.

What Is AFib?

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is one of the most common types of arrhythmia. With AFib, the atria — the two upper chambers of the heart — fire in a fast and often uncontrolled manner. Instead of contracting normally, the atria quiver causing the electrical signals to arrive in the ventricles in an irregular fashion, and the blood may pool and/or clot. If a blood clot becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke may occur.

Arrhythmia Causes and Risk Factors

Several factors may affect the heart’s rhythm and lead to arrhythmia, such as:

  • Changes to the heart tissue
  • Blood imbalances
  • Certain medicines
  • Issues with the electrical signals in the heart
  • Stress, anxiety, anger, or pain

There are cases when the cause of a person’s arrhythmia is unknown. But some things that may increase your risk for having arrhythmia include:

  • Old age
  • Being exposed to air pollutants
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Family history of arrhythmia
  • Gender (studies suggest that men are more likely to experience arrhythmia than women)
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Smoking
  • Surgery involving your heart, esophagus and/or lungs
  • Using illegal drugs

Arrhythmia Symptoms

The truth is, arrhythmia may not show obvious symptoms, especially in the early stages. Patients may notice signs of arrhythmia from time to time, such as irregular heartbeat and palpitations, and these signs may become more frequent as time goes on.

However, if you experience some of the more serious signs and symptoms of arrhythmia, please speak with a doctor right away. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Blurry vision
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Foggy brain
  • Weakness and light-headedness

When left untreated, arrhythmia may lead to life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Please see a doctor as soon as you or someone you love notice or experience signs and symptoms of arrhythmia.

Arrhythmia Treatment Options

The American Heart Association says that most types of arrhythmia are harmless and can be left untreated. However, there are also more serious types, such as AFib, that may require a treatment plan and/or therapy. Some of the usual treatments that doctors advise for arrhythmia include:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Keeping healthy cholesterol levels
  • Taking certain medications for arrhythmia
  • Procedures (i.e., surgery, cardioversion, catheter ablation, etc.)
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Eating heart-healthy foods

What Is Electrophysiology?

Electrophysiology studies (EPS) are tests that evaluate the electrical activity of the heart to determine the cause of a patient’s irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia. EPS results can help your doctor determine what type of treatment is best for your condition, whether you need medicine, cardiac ablation, a pacemaker, surgery or mere lifestyle changes.

Advanced Testing and Treatments

Baptist Health offers EPS and advanced treatment options for arrhythmia and AFib, one of the most common types of arrhythmia. These tests and treatment options can help you get back into the flow of life again. Our compassionate doctors and specialists offer a variety of testing procedures and treatments.

Helping You Find the Right Beat

By combining skilled hands and advanced technology, our doctors can help restore normal rhythm to your heart and your life. Baptist’s cardiac electrophysiologists are heart doctors (cardiologists) who have additional training in diagnosing and managing heart rhythm problems. In addition to guiding medical therapy, cardiac electrophysiologists can perform electrophysiology studies and ablations, which may provide a resolution for your heart rhythm problems without the need for medications. Our electrophysiologists also have additional training in implanting and managing pacemakers and defibrillators.

Heart & Rhythm Center of South Texas

When you have an irregular heartbeat, you may be at risk for serious heart problems and other life-threatening conditions. Baptist’s heart rhythm management center offers a top-grade atrial fibrillation treatment program for arrhythmia, close to home.

Request a Cardiologist Referral

Get your heart beating to the right rhythm.

If your heartbeat is too slow, too fast or out of rhythm, you may experience:

  • Heart skipping
  • Shortness of breath
  • Mild chest discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • And in severe cases, death

The good news is, Baptist’s AFib specialists are trained in using the Stereotaxis robotic technology to help get your heart beating to the right rhythm.

We have a highly trained, patient-focused team.

The physicians at Baptist Health System are committed to providing safe care for our patients. With their advanced training using innovative technology, they’re building a new level of dedication and trust for focused heart rhythm care in San Antonio and South Texas.

This cohesive team approach involves all members of our clinical team and their dedication to providing outstanding patient care. It’s medical care that’s more than innovations in technology; it involves professionals who are all-out in providing the compassionate service you deserve. That’s Baptist care.

Heart Help Without Radiation

“In the end, I found that it actually makes the procedure much more precise, safer, and more effective,” says Dr. Stephen May about using a low to no radiation electrophysiology treatment new to San Antonio.

Many people experience irregular heartbeats and the Baptist Heart & Rhythm Center specializes in treating arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation. We were also the first in San Antonio to offer Stereotaxis robotic technology.

We are located in the Northeast Baptist Medical Building.

Monday : 6 AM - 6 PM
Tuesday: 6 AM - 6 PM
Wednesday: 6 AM - 6 PM
Thursday: 6 AM - 6 PM
Friday: 6 AM - 6 PM
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency

About Baptist Heart & Rhythm Center

Our Services include:

  • Treatment of Arrhythmia, Atrial fibrillation and Irregular heartbeats
  • Stereotaxis robotic-assisted cardio procedures

To learn more or find a cardiologist, visit or call 210-297-2000.

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