Diagnosis in a heartbeat
An irregular heartbeat could be the sign of an underlying health problem, say medical experts at Exeter Heart
The Exeter Heart team is raising awareness of the symptoms of an irregular heartbeat, known as arrhythmia, and what to do if you suspect you or someone you care about is at risk.
Exeter Heart, based at the Nuffield Hospital, Exeter, is a unique collaboration formed by leading cardiologists to offer the latest techniques in the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions.
Consultant cardiologist Professor Nick Bellenger, on behalf of Exeter Heart, explains why the electrics of the heart can go wrong and why it is so important: “There are many reasons why electrical signalling through the heart can go wrong. These include issues with the heart’s natural pacemaker, the electrical conduction system, and damage to the heart muscle that can block or cause abnormal electrical signal to certain parts of the heart wall. Fortunately
‘With no waiting lists at our hospital we’re able to help people get on with life as quickly as possible’
many patients with palpitations have extra heart beats which do not cause any damage or need any treatment beyond reassurance.”
These are some signs and symptoms to look out for: • A fluttering in your chest • A racing heartbeat (tachycardia) • A slow heartbeat (bradycardia) • Chest pain • Shortness of breath • Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting (syncope) or near fainting
These symptoms are relatively common and can also be caused by disorders like dehydration and anaemia, but it could be worth getting your heart checked by a GP or cardiologist to make sure there is not a more serious underlying cause. Dr Matt Lovell, a consultant cardiologist who specialises in rhythm disturbances, explains: “Some patients may have abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation, for example, can cause disabling symptoms including fatigue and shortness of breath, and can increase the risk of suffering from a stroke. Correctly identifying and treating patients with atrial fibrillation is vital to improve quality of life and significantly reduce the number of patients suffering a stroke.”
Director of Nuffield Health’s Exeter Hospital, Paul Taylor says: “People can be missing out on major events and activities in their later years, because of waiting for medical tests and treatment. With no waiting lists at our hospital we’re able to help people get on with life as quickly as possible. Even if you don’t have private medical insurance you can access our care by paying for yourself.”
Exeter Heart offers rapid, convenient and affordable treatment at Nuffield Health Exeter Hospital. Facilities include state of the art cardiac MRI, a new catheter lab offering stents, pacemakers and AF and electrical ablation.