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Cardiac rhythm management includes any method of treatment aimed at regulating the heart's rhythm. In cases of irregular heartbeats, such as in patients with arrhythmia, an outside source is often needed to return the heat to normal function. This can be in the form of medication, a pacemaker, or occasionally surgery.
There may be various reasons why cardiac rhythm management may be needed, but all of them generally involve a malfunction in the heart's electrical system. Impulses are sent to the heart muscle to tell it when and how to beat. Sometimes these impulses become dysfunctional and may cause a variety of irregular beating patterns. Patients may suffer from skipped heartbeats, palpitations, or other problems.
In many cases, the first method of cardiac rhythm management is prescription medication. This is normally used in mild to moderate cases, and is often helpful at regulating the heart's electrical system. Sometimes this isn't enough to bring the heart back to a normal level of function and additional treatments are required.
Another method of cardiac rhythm management is the use of a device called a pacemaker. This is a small electrical device that is surgically inserted into the patient's chest. It sends electrical impulses to the heart to cause it to beat when irregularities are indicated. They last for many years and are very small, so the patient will not notice it once the initial healing after surgery has taken place.
Additional surgeries are sometimes used to replace repair any malfunctioning area of the heart, although this usually isn't necessary for an irregular heartbeat. Patients should discuss the severity of their condition and all treatment options with their doctors to determine the best treatment option for them. Sometimes the condition is temporary, as in the case of pregnancy. Occasionally, the strain and extra blood flow required during pregnancy combined with hormonal changes can cause temporary heart issues, for example.
There are less invasive parts of cardiac rhythm management that patients should also consider. Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and certain dietary supplements is generally a good idea because these things can trigger symptoms. It is also important for patients to discuss any medications or dietary changes they are considering to ensure that there won't be adverse reactions.