Irregular or abnormal heart beats, called arrhythmias, occur when there are abnormal electrical impulses in your heart, causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly. Arrhythmias are very common and are often a mere annoyance. However, they can also be responsible for life-threatening medical emergencies that may result in cardiac arrest and sudden death. The most common irregular heart rhythm is called atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) and involves the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart. Over 2 million Americans are affected by AFib and it is responsible for 15% of all strokes. Some arrhythmias are ventricular or originate in the lower chambers of the heart called the ventricles. These rhythms can occur as a result of damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack or cardiomyopathy – or can occur in patients with hearts that seem structurally normal. There are also inherited arrhythmia disorders which include a wide spectrum of genetic conditions that predispose otherwise healthy individuals to sudden cardiac death. Some of these inherited arrhythmia disorders include Long QT syndrome, short QT syndrome, and Brugada syndrome.
Arrhythmia treatment depends on the type and severity of the arrhythmia. Treatment options may include medications, lifestyle changes, invasive therapies, electrical devices or surgery. In some cases, no treatment is necessary. Take this opportunity to learn more about arrhythmias in both children and adults and have your questions answered by Mina Chung, MD from the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute and Peter Aziz, MD from Cleveland Clinic Children’s.
Mina K. Chung, MD, is a Staff Cardiologist in the Section of Pacing and Electrophysiology, The Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Chung is board-certified in internal medicine and in the subspecialties of cardiovascular disease and clinical cardiac electrophysiology.
She received her medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where she completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at the Jewish Hospital of the Washington University School of Medicine, becoming Chief Resident. She received fellowships in research and in cardiology from the Jewish Hospital, followed by a fellowship in cardiac electrophysiology from Barnes Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, during which she received the Michael Bilitch Fellowship Award in Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology from the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology.
Dr. Chung has been principal investigator or co-investigator in a number of important clinical trials studying atrial fibrillation, supraventricular and ventricular arrhythmias, cardioversion, pacemaker and defibrillator therapy, biventricular pacing for heart failure and catheter ablation approaches. Along with colleagues at Cleveland Clinic, she reported the first association of inflammation with persistence of atrial fibrillation. She has also been a Principal Investigator for AFFIRM (Atrial Fibrillation Follow-up Investigation of Rhythm Management), a multicenter randomized trial of rate-control versus rhythm-control strategies for atrial fibrillation.
Her specialty interests include Abnormal Heart Rhythms, Long QT Syndrome, Sudden Cardiac Death, Supraventricular Tachycardia, Ventricular Tachycardia, Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, Biventricular Pacemaker, Catheter Ablation, Electrophysiology Study, Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, Pacemaker Implant cardiac electrophysiology, arrhythmia ablation, atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia, defibrillatory implantation, pacemaker implantation, genetics of cardiac arrhythmias.
Peter Aziz, MD is a pediatric cardiologist in Cleveland Clinic Children’s. He completed his pediatric cardiology fellowship at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in 2010 and continued his training there in pediatric electrophysiology. During his fellowship, Dr. Aziz was awarded a training grant under the National Institute of Health (NIH) to investigate genotype and phenotype correlations in pediatric patients with long QT syndrome. Dr. Aziz also acquired skills in catheter ablation of pediatric arrhythmias and device (pacemaker and ICD) implantation. Following his fellowship, Dr. Aziz joined Cleveland Clinic as a pediatric electrophysiologist. He is active in the training and teaching of medical students, residents and fellows, an activity that continuously inspires him. Dr. Aziz is also quite active in research and was the recent recipient of the SADS 2011 Young Investigator Award for his work on long QT syndrome.
His specialty interests include Abnormal heart rhythms, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, heart palpitations, long QT syndrome (LQTS), supraventricular tachycardia, syncope, ventricular tachycardia, Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW), electrophysiology study, radiofrequency ablation, device implantation.