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Irregular Heartbeats During Angioplasty

Irregular heartbeats during angioplasty are relatively common. In most cases, they are brief and do not cause any symptoms. However, abnormal heart rhythms can sometimes lead to serious consequences. Depending on the heart irregularity, your doctor may temporarily or permanently place a pacemaker or defibrillator into your heart. In rare cases, irregular heartbeats during angioplasty can lead to death.

 

How Does the Heart Normally Beat?

Before we discuss the specifics of this particular angioplasty complication, you should know a little about the normal process of a heartbeat.
 
Your heart is only able to beat because it sends electrical signals from an area in your heart called the SA node (also known as the main pacemaker).
 
In a normal situation, the electrical signals cause the upper parts of the heart to beat together. This pushes blood into the lower parts of the heart. Then, as the electrical signals continue through the heart, the lower chambers contract to push blood out of the heart.
 

Irregular Heartbeats During Angioplasty

Sometimes things go wrong in the heart's electrical pathways. An electrical signal may be sent from a part of the heart that should not be sending signals. This creates abnormal heartbeats. The heart may beat too slowly, too rapidly, or just irregularly.
 
Irregular heart rhythms are a relatively common occurrence during angioplasty. Fortunately, most of these are very brief and cause no symptoms. However, in rare cases, an abnormal rhythm can develop, creating an immediate risk. Because of this risk, instruments and medications will be close at hand to treat these rhythms. Your healthcare providers have advanced training for these situations.
 
Depending on the heart irregularity, your doctor may temporarily or permanently place a pacemaker or defibrillator into your heart. These instruments are able to sense abnormal heart rhythms and act to correct them. They are used if you have developed or are at risk of developing a heart rhythm that can cause serious consequences. In rare cases, an abnormal rhythm can lead to death.
 
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