Expert heart arrhythmia care in Citrus County, Florida

An irregular heartbeat, or heart arrhythmia, can lead to other health abnormalities and disorders. It can even be a symptom of underlying heart disease.

At Citrus Memorial Hospital, our expert cardiology team specializes in treating heart arrhythmias and heartbeat irregularity conditions, such as atrial fibrillation (AFib). We use the most sophisticated tools and procedural techniques available.

To learn more about our cardiology services and procedures, contact our Consult-A-Nurse® team at any time at (352) 637-3337.

Arrhythmia treatments and procedures

We provide a full spectrum of arrhythmia treatments and procedures based on the specific arrhythmic condition of each patient. These treatments include:

  • Ablation
    • Cryoablation
    • Catheter ablation
  • Automated external defibrillator
  • Beta blockers
  • Blood thinners
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)
  • Digoxin
  • Electrical cardioversion
  • Implantable loop recorder

Pacemaker insertion procedure

A pacemaker is a device used to treat arrhythmias. It is surgically implanted and uses electrical impulses to normalize the heartbeat. It is most commonly used to treat bradycardia.

During a pacemaker insertion, surgeons are guided by an X-ray camera to insert the two very thin wires of the pacemaker into the heart through a small incision in the chest.

The patient is monitored overnight at the hospital to evaluate how effectively the pacemaker is working.

Once inserted, patients can expect a pacemaker's battery to last about 12 years.

About atrial fibrillation (AFib)

AFib, the most common irregular heartbeat disorder, is caused by the heart's two upper chambers beating erratically and out of sync with the heart's lower chambers.

At this rate, the heart is unable to steadily pump out blood. This results in a rapid, very irregular heartbeat and less blood being pumped from the heart throughout the body. Ultimately, this leads to greater health problems, such as stroke, heart failure and blood clots in the heart's upper chambers.

Symptoms of AFib

Some patients with AFib may not notice any symptoms or signs until the heartbeat disorder is identified during a medical exam.

However, the most common symptom of AFib is fatigue. Patients may also notice it becomes more difficult to sleep lying down. This is because fluid accumulates in the lungs when lying down, but pools in the legs when sitting up, making it easier to breathe.

Other signs of AFib include:

  • Chest pain (angina) or pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Irregular/rapid heartbeat or pulse
  • Lightheadedness
  • Palpitations or a pounding/flip-flopping feeling in the chest
  • Racing feeling in the chest
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Weakness

Thyroid abnormalities and AFib

The thyroid hormone directly affects the heart by influencing the speed and strength of your heartbeat and cardiac output. Hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much thyroid hormone, can speed up everything, including the heart. This overactivity of the thyroid gland can increase the risk of developing AFib.

According to the American Thyroid Association, some studies suggest hypothyroidism, when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, can also increase the risk of developing AFib.

Types of atrial fibrillation

Types of AFib are categorized by how long a patient experiences an AFib episode and not necessarily by which symptoms are present. The stages or types of AFib are:

Paroxysmal—These AFib episodes last less than a week and can come and go. Patients may feel these episodes lasting for a few minutes or for several days. This type of AFib is also nicknamed "holiday heart syndrome" as it often follows bouts of heavy drinking and tends to occur during periods of extreme stress.

Persistent—These AFib episodes last longer than a week. These episodes can stop on their own or may require medication to stop. If medicine is ineffective, physicians may use electrical cardioversion, a procedure using low-wattage currents, to regulate your heart's rhythm.

Chronic or persistent—This AFib episode has lasted for a year or longer and has not stopped. Medications and treatments, such as electrical cardioversion, may have been unsuccessful. In these cases, physicians may attempt other treatment options, such as ablation, which burns the abnormal tissue sending out erroneous signals and causing heart rate irregularity, to return your heart's rhythm to normal.

AFib never fully disappears, but can be suppressed for five to 10 years if treated early enough, such as during the paroxysmal stage.

Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) device insertion

This procedure reduces the risk of stroke for patients with AFib and helps eliminate the need for long-term blood thinner usage. A device is implanted into the left atrial appendage, which is believed to be the main source of stroke-causing clots in patients with AFib.