Heart Rhythm Center in Santa Clara County
When left untreated, heart irregularities can contribute to your risk of stroke, heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases. This is why we have a dedicated Heart Rhythm Center. Here, our cardiologists and other heart specialists use cutting-edge technology to detect and treat irregular heartbeats.
For information about treatment services at our Heart Rhythm Center, call (408) 879-5900.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
AFib is one of the most common heart arrhythmias. It is a cardiac condition that is marked by an irregular, slow or rapid heart rate. This can result in poor blood circulation.
Types of AFib
The three types of AFib are:
- Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation—when AFib stops by itself, and the heart returns to normal
- Persistent atrial fibrillation—when the body is unable to stop AFib on its own, and so medication or a special type of electric shock are necessary to help your heart rate return to normal
- Permanent atrial fibrillation—when AFib cannot be stopped, even with the use of medication or controlled electric shock, and so the patient may remain in a state of atrial fibrillation indefinitely.
During an episode of AFib, your heart’s two upper chambers will start to beat irregularly, bringing them out of sync with the other two lower chambers. In some cases, AFib will come and go throughout a person's life. In other cases, it is an ongoing issue.
Often, people with AFib do not realize they have this condition, and it is only discovered in a routine physical exam. In cases where AFib comes and goes, a person may experience a change in heart rate.
Individuals who do have symptoms may experience:
- A decrease in blood pressure
- Chest pain or heart palpitations
- General weakness or fatigue
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
If AFib is not properly treated, you run the risk of suffering a stroke or even heart failure.
Causes of AFib
The most common cause of AFib is damage to or abnormalities in the heart’s structure. Other possible causes include:
- Abnormal heart valves
- Congenital heart defects
- Emphysema or other lung diseases
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Overactive thyroid gland
- Stimulant exposure
- Sleep apnea
- Stress caused by pneumonia
- Viral infections
AFib risk factors
You may be at a higher risk for AFib if you:
- Are of an older age
- Consume alcohol excessively
- Have a family history of AFib
- Have a history of heart disease
- Have uncontrolled high blood pressure
Arrhythmia diagnosis services we offer
We perform the following arrhythmia diagnostic services:
- Cardiac electrophysiology
- Echocardiogram (echo)
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
- Event monitoring
- Holter monitoring
- Stress and treadmill tests
Our arrhythmia treatments
The goal in treating heart arrhythmias, such as AFib, is to reset your heart rhythm back to normal and prevent blood clots from developing. In most cases, the first course of action is medication to get your heart rate back to its normal rhythm.
Your doctor may also prescribe blood thinners to help prevent blood clots. When medication is not effective, electrical cardioversion and cardiac catheter ablation may be necessary.
Some of the treatments we offer for heart arrhythmias include:
Cardiac catheter ablation
The goal of a cardiac catheter ablation is to reset the heartbeat back to a normal rhythm. During a cardiac catheter ablation, a special machine delivers energy through a catheter to mark a small area of the heart muscle that causes the abnormal heart rhythm. This allows your heart to return to its normal rhythm.
Left atrial appendage (LAA) closure
LAA closure is a minimally invasive procedure for patients with atrial fibrillation. Patients who suffer from non-valvular atrial fibrillation may be eligible for a LAA closure device, such as the WATCHMAN.
An LAA closure device can be especially helpful for patients who cannot tolerate warfarin (blood thinner) therapy. This alternative to warfarin can help reduce the risk of stroke and may allow patients to stop taking blood thinners.
When hearts have trouble beating regularly because of an interruption in the electric pathway, a pacemaker can be used to correct the problem. A pacemaker is a small device that sends electrical impulses to the heart muscle, causing it to contract at an appropriate rhythm.
The two types of pacemakers are:
- Single chamber pacemakers that deliver energy to the right ventricle to help it contract
- Dual chamber pacemakers that deliver energy to both ventricles to create a normal rhythm
Bi-ventricular (BI-V) pacemaker
The BI-V pacemaker works with both the left and right side of the heart to keep the ventricles pumping together. This is known as cardiac resynchronization therapy.
In order to qualify for a BI-V pacemaker, you must:
- Be taking medications to treat heart failure
- Have delayed electrical activation of the heart
- Have a low ejection fraction less than 35 percent
Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
An ICD is a small electronic device used to monitor your heart rhythm. Once it is implanted into your chest, it can detect a fast or abnormal rhythm in the lower chamber of your heart and deliver energy to correct the dangerous rhythm.
Typically, an ICD is recommended for people who have experienced:
- At least one prior heart attack
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Sudden cardiac arrest
- Ventricular fibrillation
- Ventricular tachycardia
There are three different types of ICDs:
- Single chamber ICD attaches to your right ventricle
- Dual chamber ICD attaches two chambers on the same side of the heart
- Bi-ventricular ICS attaches to three chambers in your heart
Implantable loop recorder (ILR)
An ILR is a small device used to record the electrical activity of your heart. An ILR can help identify the causes of fainting, recurring palpitations, lightheadedness or dizziness.
Once inserted, the device continuously records heart activity for up to two years. The monitor can easily be removed once your symptoms are recorded or the battery runs out.