Your Heart: Screening for irregular heartbeats

Anyone over the age of 65 - especially those who have diabetes or high blood pressure - should be checked every year for abnormal heart rhythms.
Your Heart: Screening for irregular heartbeats
Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - It’s estimated that one in 18 people in the United States have a heart arrhythmia.

A recent study suggests that one in four adults over 40 could develop an irregular heartbeat. Some people will know they have it, but others won’t until it’s too late.

A healthy heart beats up to a 100 times a minute, but if that increases or decreases, you may suffer from a heart arrhythmia, which is caused by breakdowns in the electrical pathways of the heart.

“Some can cause the heart muscle to weaken, and you could develop heart failure and some can predispose you to stroke,” said Dr. Rod Passman.

Traditionally, doctors diagnose these disorders with an EKG, then medications or an ablation is performed. But now, Northwestern Medicine doctors are among the first in the country to use a new advanced 3D mapping system.

“By sending magnetic signals through the body, we could recreate a three-dimensional animation of your heart,” said Passman.

Previous technology mapped a few dozen points within the heart, but the new technology can map tens of thousands of points in just a few minutes, pinpointing the problem down to the millimeter.

“We can then develop a very personalized approach to your abnormal rhythm,” said Passman.

A catheter is inserted through a tiny incision and snaked through the blood vessel in the groin. Doctors either heat or freeze the abnormal tissue, sending the heart back into a normal rhythm.

“We can perform your ablations faster, safer and more effectively, and hopefully, restore you to a higher quality life than you had before,” said Passman.

Men are at a slightly higher risk for heart arrhythmia. There are also things we do to reduce the risk including weight loss, frequent exercise, minimizing alcohol intake, and treating other disorders such as sleep apnea.

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