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An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm. It feels like your heart is fluttering or skipping a beat. Everyone has experienced this before. However, it can be serious and a sign of a greater issue, such as heart disease, if it’s persistent.
Getting treatment for your arrhythmia may involve seeing many doctors and specialists. If you also have heart disease, you may need to see a doctor who specializes in that. If your arrhythmia isn’t a health concern, you may not need to see any specialists.
Here are some professionals who may be involved in the diagnosis and treatment of your arrhythmia:
Your primary care doctor may be an internist or general practitioner. They may:
Your primary care doctor may refer you to a cardiologist for further evaluation and treatment. A cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in heart issues, including arrhythmias. Your cardiologist will likely conduct a variety of diagnostic tests to determine if you have an arrhythmia, what part of your heart is affected, and the severity of your condition.
Your primary care doctor or cardiologist may refer you to an electrophysiologist. This doctor is a cardiologist who specializes in the care and treatment of arrhythmias. They may prescribe a course of treatment and relay that information to your general practitioner for your extended care, or they may serve as your primary doctor for your arrhythmia.
When you make an appointment, ask if there are any pre-appointment restrictions. For example, you might be asked to restrict your diet if your doctor plans to draw blood for certain tests.
When you see your doctor, it’s important to bring information they’ll need to make a proper diagnosis. Having this information written down will save time and help prevent you from forgetting anything important.
Bring the following information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis:
If you use illicit or prescription drugs recreationally, share this information with your doctor as well.
Your doctor will also ask if you or anyone in your family has a history of:
They’ll also want to know if anyone in your family has died suddenly.
Write down a list of questions before you see your doctor to get the most from your visit. Start with the most important questions in case you run out of time. The following are some questions you may want to ask:
You should add any other questions you may want to ask to your list.
Your doctor will want to know about your habits, such as smoking, drinking, or illicit drug use. It’s important that you answer honestly. Your doctor can only make an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment recommendation if they have complete and accurate information. Remember that whatever you tell your doctor is confidential.
Your doctor will also want to know if you've experienced or are experiencing a time of heavy mental or emotional stress, such as:
High levels of stress can contribute to arrhythmia.
Other questions your doctor may ask include:
The information you bring along will be helpful in answering these questions.
Worrying about an arrhythmia can lead to stress and depression and make your arrhythmia worse. It’s good to make time for fun and relaxation on a regular basis. This may be hard at first, but as you begin to feel better it will become easier.
There are many support groups available for people with arrhythmias, both in your community and online. It can be helpful to talk to others with your condition and know that you aren’t alone.
Having a plan in place to deal with episodes of arrhythmia can help put your mind at ease. Talk to your doctor about:
By working with your doctors or specialists, you can come up with a treatment plan that works for you, whether it involves medication, surgery, alternative treatments, or a combination of all of these. Come up with a plan in case of an emergency and keep your friends and family informed. You can live a healthy and fulfilling life by getting treatment for arrhythmias and preparing for them.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: Jun 03, 2016: Modern Weng, D.O.
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