Atrial Fibrillation After Cardiac Surgery
One example of an irregular heart rhythm after cardiac surgery that does create symptoms is called atrial fibrillation. Symptoms may include a rapid heart rate or a pounding in your chest. This abnormal rhythm is caused by too many electrical signals in the upper heart chambers or atria. Why atrial fibrillation occurs after cardiac surgery is not known. Your heart simply does not contract in a coordinated manner, but instead quivers. However, your doctor can treat this problem, should it occur.
In rare cases, an abnormal heart rhythm that creates an immediate risk can develop. 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.