Our heartbeats literally enable life, circulating oxygen to our lungs and vital systems throughout the body.
Sometimes, because of genetic predispositions or cardiac conditions, the heart can beat too quickly, too slowly or in an erratic fashion. This can result in symptoms like dizziness or heart palpitations.
A life-threatening condition
However, some people experience none of these symptoms and may not be aware that they have an arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat. Cases such as these can be particularly dangerous, which is why the work of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Unit (CAU) is so important.
“Arrhythmias can affect everyone and we provide care for patients from teenagers to 100-year olds,” explains Quinn Kolthof, Clinical Manager of Arrhythmia Services at Hamilton General Hospital. “Arrhythmias can range from minor-level disturbances to life-threatening conditions like heart failure, and we are skilled at dealing with all.”
Care in the CAU
The CAU offers same-day care for patients provided by an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, medical radiological technicians, arrhythmia technicians, health care and environmental aides, and more. The CAU is a self-contained area where patients are prepped for procedures, receive their treatment and recover in the same unit.
“The CAU has strong collaboration with international experts.”
The CAU conducts electrophysiology (EP) heart studies to determine the causes of arrhythmias, and the unit also specializes in the implantation of pacemakers and implantable cardio defibrillators (ICDs) to regulate heart rhythms.
The team in the CAU also performs cardiac ablation, which is a minimally invasive procedure involving the use of electrodes to deliver safe electrical pulses to areas of the heart for the treatment an irregular heartbeat.
“We are also a world-class arrhythmia research institute that has helped to shape the use of pacemakers, ICDs, and blood thinning to prevent stroke in atrial fibrillation,” says Quinn. “The CAU has strong collaboration with international experts in cardiac surgery, neurology, and thrombosis medicine. Our team is proud of the work we do to improve the quality of life for patients throughout the region.”