An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm. We see many children who experience a wide range of abnormal heart rhythms. Our doctors have the depth of expertise to offer your child the most up-to-date and appropriate options.
One treatment for arrhythmia is cardiac ablation, a nonsurgical procedure that uses heat or cold to safely destroy the heart tissue causing the arrhythmia. We perform ablations in our high-tech electrophysiology lab.
What Is an Arrhythmia?
An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm usually caused by an electrical "short circuit" in the heart. Normally, a child’s heart beats in a consistent pattern. With an arrhythmia, it can beat too slowly (bradycardia), too quickly (tachycardia) or irregularly. These abnormal rhythms can interfere with the heart’s ability to pump blood.
What to know about arrhythmias:
- Some children with arrhythmias have no symptoms. Others may experience fatigue, dizziness and chest pain.
- Most children who have arrhythmias are born with them. Your pediatrician may detect it right away. Often, a routine physical or school screening catches the abnormality later.
- Some arrhythmia conditions are hereditary. If we suspect this is the case for your child, we can quickly test everyone in the family.
Types of Arrhythmias
Children can experience several types of abnormal heart rhythms, including:
- Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) or atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT): In the most common abnormal heart rates in children, the heart has episodes of beating too quickly. We use cardiac ablation, a nonsurgical procedure that safely destroys the heart tissue causing the arrhythmia, to treat SVT and AVNRT. However, not all children with these conditions need treatment.
- Ventricular tachycardia (VT): VT is less common and potentially more life-threatening than SVT. We treat VT with a procedure such as ablation.
- Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome: A rapid heartbeat caused by an extra electrical pathway, WPW is treatable with medication or ablation.
- Cardiac channelopathy: These types of arrhythmias are inherited and include long QT syndrome and short QT syndrome. We test for them in families and treat them with medication or other interventions.
- Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS): POTS is a fast heart rate upon standing. We are usually able to treat it with medication.
How We Care for Arrhythmia
Arrhythmias are very treatable. For many children, just one procedure permanently gets rid of the abnormal rhythm. We offer:
- Expertise in cardiac ablation: Cardiac ablation is the main treatment for arrhythmias, and it has a 95 percent success rate. We have extensive experience performing ablations, even for complex arrhythmias. Learn more about cardiac ablation.
- Pacemakers and ICDs: When children have types of arrhythmias that can’t be treated with ablation, we treat them with medication. If their condition is life-threatening, a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can control their heart rhythm and ease the irregular heartbeats.
- Sophisticated electrophysiology (EP) lab: Using the latest technology, we diagnose and treat children (and sometimes adults) for arrhythmias. Performing a high volume of procedures means we have measurable experience and see a variety of cases. Learn more about electrophysiology.
- Experienced, compassionate team: Although much of what we do in the EP lab is familiar to us, we know that it is not familiar to parents. We understand that parents have worries and questions. Our team of doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and Child Life specialists will answer all your questions honestly. We treat your children as we would our own. Learn more about our team.
To schedule an appointment or learn about our award-winning pediatric heart team, call 954-265-3437.