My Treatment

Treatments Available to Me

Norfolk Heart Rhythm’s Consultant Electrophysiologists will provide you with a detailed clinical assessment. In order for them to understand your heart rhythm disturbance (or arrhythmia), you will be invited to undertake a series of diagnostic tests. Your consultant will then discuss suitable treatment options with you.

There are different ways of treating different electrophysiological conditions.



There are a range of medicines that can be used to control an irregular heartbeat. Anti-arrhythmic drugs change the electrical signals in your heart thereby preventing irregularities. You consultant will discuss your current drug regimen and how this may be changed to improve your condition and quality of life.

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A pacemaker is a small electrical device, typically fitted in the chest below the collarbone. It’s used to treat some abnormal heart rhythms that can cause your heart to either beat too slowly or miss beats. Some pacemakers can also help the chambers of your heart beat in time.

You may need a pacemaker if:

  • you have a particular type of heart block – a delay in the electrical signals travelling through the heart, that can make the heart beat too slowly;
  • your heart is beating too fast and this is not effectively controlled by medication; or
  • you have heart failure, which may cause your heart to pump out of sync.

Having a pacemaker can greatly improve your quality of life and for some people it can be lifesaving.

Most pacemakers are very reliable and comfortable. They’re smaller than an average matchbox and weigh about 20 to 50 grams.

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Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillators (ICDs)

An ICD is a small device which can treat people with dangerously abnormal heart rhythms. It sends electrical pulses to regulate abnormal heart rhythms, specifically those that can be dangerous and cause a cardiac arrest.

Like a pacemaker, an IDC is typically fitted in the chest below the collarbone. Once in place, the ICD constantly monitors your heart rate through small wires connecting it to the heart. If the ICD notices a dangerous rhythm it can deliver one or more of the following treatments:

  • Pacing, a series of low-voltage electrical impulses (paced beats) at a fast rate to try and correct the heart rhythm.
  • Cardioversion, one or more small electric shocks to try and restore the heart to a normal rhythm.
  • Defibrillation, one or more larger electric shocks to try and restore the heart to a normal rhythm.

You may need an ICD if:

  • you have already had a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm and are at risk of having it again;
  • you haven’t had a life-threatening heart rhythm, but tests show you are at risk of one in the future. This is usually because you have inherited faulty genes and may have a condition such as Cardiomyopathy; or
  • you have another heart condition, such as heart failure, and have had or are at risk of having a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm because of this you have had other treatments to correct your heart rhythm which have been unsuccessful.

There are different types of Pacemakers and ICDs available. Your consultant will talk to you about which is the best device for you; this will depend on the reasons why you need to have one.

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Catheter Ablation

Catheter Ablation, also known simply as ablation, uses either heat (radiofrequency ablation) or freezing (cryoablation) on the area of your heart that’s causing the abnormal heart rhythm. This treatment creates scar tissue which:

  • breaks abnormal circuits in the heart; and
  • destroys areas of the heart muscle which are triggering arrhythmias.

This is achieved by navigating thin wires (called catheters) from your wrist and groin, through your veins or arteries, to the heart.

Ablation doesn’t work straight away, and you may experience ongoing symptoms for eight to 10 weeks after the procedure. At this point, if the treatment has been successful, your consultant may discuss reducing, chancing or stopping your medication. In some cases, patients need to repeat the procedure.

If an ablation is required at a particular point of the heart muscle, then you may also require a pacemaker (which would be fitted in advance). This called “ablate and pace”.

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Electrical Cardioversion

Cardioversion is a treatment which aims to get your abnormal heart rhythm back to a normal pattern. It’s done by sending electric signals to your heart through electrodes placed on the chest.

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