Heart Disease Home > Irregular Heart Rhythms With Beating Heart Bypass Surgery

Problems with electrical signals within the heart can lead to irregular heart rhythms with beating heart bypass surgery. These usually do not cause problems, but they can become serious if atrial fibrillation (where the heart quivers instead of contracting normally) occurs. Your doctor may insert a pacemaker if you are at risk of having irregular heart rhythms with beating heart surgery or if you already have an abnormal heart rhythm.

Irregular Heart Rhythms With Beating Heart Bypass Surgery: An Overview

In order to understand this possible complication of beating heart bypass surgery, you should know something about how the heart beats.
Electrical signals are sent from a special area in your heart, called the "SA node," or the main "pacemaker." As these signals are sent through the heart, the top parts of your heart contract together, and then the lower parts contract. This makes blood flow in the right direction through the heart.
Sometimes, things go wrong with the electrical signals, and this creates abnormal heart rhythms. The heart may beat too slowly, too quickly, or just irregularly.
Irregular heart rhythms don't happen very often after beating heart bypass surgery. If they do, they are usually brief and don't cause any symptoms or problems.
One example that does cause problems is called atrial fibrillation. During atrial fibrillation, the heart quivers instead of contracting normally. It isn't known why this sometimes happens after surgery. Symptoms of atrial fibrillation may include a rapid heart rate or a pounding feeling in your chest. In rare cases, atrial fibrillation and other abnormal heart rhythms can be fatal.
If you already have, or might develop, an abnormal heart rhythm, your doctor may put a pacemaker or defibrillator into your heart. These devices can sense abnormal heart rhythms and correct them. They may be used either temporarily or permanently, depending on your condition.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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