Many heart rhythm disturbances are very minor and symptoms are only fleeting. In many case, and all that patients require is reassurance that their heart is generally healthy. For other patients, the problem can be more intrusive or troublesome, and attacks of heart rhythm disturbances can be prolonged and distressing. In these cases, therapy may be indicated. The first line of treatment in the majority of patients is usually a trial of medication to see if the symptoms can be controlled. If the problem continues, other medications that can be tried but at this stage, it is common to discuss non-pharmacological options such as radiofrequency ablation. This relatively new technique has revolutionised the way we manage many fast heart rhythms as a cure can be obtained in the majority of cases. The technique involves pinpointing the 'short circuit' with a platinum tipped catheter on the inner lining of the heart and creating a very limited spot burn to damage the electrical capabilities of that area and stop the fast rhythm from recurring.
Radiofrequency ablation procedures are performed using x-ray cameras to guide positioning of the catheters within the heart. For more complex procedures such as atrial fibrillation ablation, we also use computerised 3D mapping to allow us to see the catheters inside the heart in real-time.
More detailed information about specific heart rhythm disturbances and treatments is provided in web pages that can be accessed by clicking on the links on the left.