Each time your heart beats – typically 50 to 100 times a minute – it’s working to pump and circulate blood throughout the body. This process requires all the parts of your heart to be functioning properly, following the heart’s usual rhythm. However, when the heartbeat becomes irregular or uneven, this is called an arrhythmia.

What is heart arrhythmia?

Simply put, arrhythmia is when your heart beats abnormally. The main function of the heart is to pump blood to vital organs throughout the body, but your heart does this by following coordinated electrical pulses. If these pulses fall out of sequence, this causes an arrhythmia, which can become serious, increasing risk of heart failure or stroke, if left untreated.

There are several different types of arrhythmias, all of which have unique causes, symptoms and can range in severity. In some cases, an arrhythmia may cause your heart to beat too slow (bradycardia) or too fast (tachycardia), while others may cause it to beat irregularly.

What causes arrhythmias?

Electrical signals typically travel through the heart in a regular pattern but different factors including a heart attack, aging and high blood pressure can cause the heart to scar and beat in an irregular rhythm. Abnormal electrical pathways found with congenital heart defects can also cause Arrhythmias.

Do you need treatment for arrhythmia?

In some cases, an arrhythmia can be harmless and silent, meaning they cause no symptoms. Other times, an arrhythmia can be extremely dangerous, even an emergency. The only way to really know is to work with a cardiologist that’s specifically trained to care for arrhythmias, known as an electrophysiologist.

Any type of irregular heartbeat should be assessed by a cardiologist to ensure accurate and precise diagnosis and to determine a personalized, long-term treatment plan.

What is an electrophysiologist, and do I need one?

Electrophysiology is a cardiac specialty that assesses the heart’s electrical activity to diagnose arrhythmias, a disturbance of the heart’s normal rhythm. Electrophysiologists have extensive experience in understanding the heart’s electrical system and detecting abnormal patterns in pulses. The Electrophysiologists at Georgia Heart Institute will perform an EP study, using the most advanced technology to assess the nature of the abnormal heart rhythm and its underlying cause.

Our team offers some of the best care for arrhythmias in the region, delivering a high degree of expertise enriched with the most advanced technology and research available.

Why Choose Georgia Heart Institute?

Providing convenient access to cutting-edge heart and vascular care, Georgia Heart Institute is committed to ensuring long-lasting heart health for all of our patients, including those with advanced heart and vascular needs. With thousands of heart procedures performed and more than 45,000 patients treated each year, every member of our team is specially trained to diagnose and treat both common and the most complex heart conditions.

With our electrophysiology program, every patient’s journey is unique and highly customized for their unique needs. We use state-of-the-art diagnostics and technology to assess your heart health and put you back onto the path to wellness.

Heart Rhythm Disorders We Treat

While there are many different types of arrhythmias, they are primarily identified and categorized based on two different criteria – what part of the heart they are in and what affect they have on the heartbeat. We can detect, diagnose and treat arrhythmias that fall into each of these categories, including:

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

This is when the heart’s upper and lower chambers fall out of coordination with one another, causing the heartbeat to become fast and erratic. AFib is the most common type of arrhythmia, but it can also be one of the most dangerous, increasing your risk for blood clots, stroke and heart failure.

Atrial Arrhythmia

Also known as supraventricular arrhythmia, this type occurs in the upper chambers of the heart, known as the atria. In addition to AFib, there are several different forms of atrial arrhythmia, including supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and atrial flutter.

Ventricular Arrhythmia

This type occurs in the lower chambers of the heart, known as the ventricles. A few specific types are ventricular tachycardia (V-tach) and ventricular fibrillation (V-fib). Ventricular arrhythmias can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.

Electrophysiology Treatments at Georgia Heart Institute

When you receive arrhythmia treatment at Georgia Heart Institute, every part of your care is strategically coordinated to ensure the best possible outcomes and experience. This starts with in-depth diagnostics and testing from our experienced electrophysiologists to shape a treatment plan that is targeted to effectively meet your unique needs.

Our specialized services and treatments, include:

Arrhythmia Management

Many of our electrophysiology procedures are performed in our specialized cardiac catheterization labs, which are uniquely equipped to perform minimally-invasive diagnostics and procedures in a safe environment. We also provide ongoing, routine care and arrhythmia management at our thirteen outpatient offices with Georgia Heart Institute.

Electrophysiology Study

An EP study is a diagnostic test that involves mild sedation and a specialized electrode catheter, a thin tube that is gently inserted into the blood vessels leading to the heart. Once it is guided to the heart, your doctor will send small electric pulses through the catheters to prompt your heart to beat at different rates. The catheter’s electrodes collect data, called cardiac mapping, to evaluate the hearts electrical functions. During an EP study, an electrophysiologist may prompt arrhythmias and collect data about the events. The results of the study will help your doctor determine the necessary course of treatment.

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Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy / Pacemaker Implantation

Similar to an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD), cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) uses a small, implanted pacemaker to monitor the heartbeat and to detect any abnormalities. If the device senses an abnormal rhythm, it uses electrical pulses to correct it. CRT is used to meet the unique needs of patients living with both an arrhythmia and heart failure.


Northeast Georgia Medical Center was the first hospital in Georgia to use cryoablation on adults, a technique to treat arrhythmias which involves freezing abnormal areas causing arrhythmias. In appropriate patients, cryoablation is often safer and easier to use than alternate procedures that treat by heating.

Learn more about cardiac ablations.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

An ICD is a small, electronic device that is permanently place inside the body to help control the heart’s rhythm, speed and pattern. Like a pacemaker, it constantly monitors the heart rhythm. Most importantly, it has the ability to stop a dangerous arrhythmia.

Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation

In some situations, the specific area of the rhythm disturbance can be corrected by sending heat energy through a catheter to a small region of the heart to vaporize the abnormal area.

Learn more about cardiac ablations.


More than 2.7 million Americans have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, which is often called AFib. The condition occurs when the upper chambers of the heart—called the atria—beat irregularly, which disrupts blood flow in the heart. One of its side effects is an increased risk of stroke. Treatment has traditionally included lifelong blood-thinning medication therapy that carries side effects of its own, but a new device, called the WATCHMAN, offers an alternative.

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Maze procedure

The Maze procedure is often considered the “gold standard” in AFib treatment. We offer this cardiothoracic surgery through a robotic approach, lessening pain and long recovery times for patients.

Learn more.

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