Heart Center

Cardiovascular Disease Management

Cardiac Arrhythmias

To function efficiently and to provide the optimal amount of oxygenated blood your body needs with each beat, your heart's rhythm must be regular and even. A rate that is too slow, too fast, or very irregular overworks the heart. Often, the stress of this can lead to other cardiac conditions. Normal heart rates range between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

Your heart is normally controlled by an electrical impulse that originates in a small mass of muscle tissue within the upper right chamber of your heart. This specialized tissue is the sinoatrial node ( or S-A node), the heart's "natural pacemaker." The S-A node sends electrical signals that tell the heart muscle to contract, pumping blood from the heart to other parts of the body.

An arrhythmia is any deviation from or disturbance of the normal heart rhythm - too fast, too slow, and/or irregular. They are common: 2.2 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation, which is just one type of rhythm problem.

The treatment for heart rhythm disorders depends upon the type, duration, and symptoms. No matter the type of heart rhythm disorder, the treatment goals are the same: control the heart rate, prevention formation of clots, and restore the normal heart rhythm when possible. The arrhythmia treatment ranges from conservative (medication therapy) to aggressive (complex surgical procedures). Optimal treatment is determined by your physician based on your specific needs.


Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder. There are more than two million people in the United States with AF; however, many people have no symptoms. AF often develops in individuals who have high blood pressure, heart failure and/or disease of the heart's arteries or valves. It's most common in elderly individuals, occurring in 17% of people over 80 years of age.

Caused by electrical activity problems in the upper chambers of the heart (the atria), AF results in an irregular and inefficient rhythm which is often coupled with a heart rate that is faster or slower than normal. AF can also lead to heart failure if tissue damage is present. When the atria fibrillate, the blood tends to pool in the atrial chambers, leading to the formation of clots. These blood clots can leave the atria, travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

One-third of the people with AF do not have symptoms. The problem is sometimes discovered during a routine physical examination.

People with symptoms of AF may experience:

  • Palpitations (the sensation of their heart beating fast against their chest)
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Perspiration
  • A faint feeling

If an underlying heart disease is present, a person who has AF may experience:

  • chest pain
  • severe difficulty breathing with fluid in the lungs
  • loss of consciousness

Atrial fibrillation can recur at different times and can be quite uncomfortable and frightening. It can also interfere with a person's daily activities and impact their quality of life. Treatment requires an individualized approach and can include medications. Almost everyone with AF is required to take a blood-thinning drug to prevent the formation of clots within the atrial chambers. Your cardiologist and primary care physician will both play an important role in the regulation of your medication and will work together to help you manage AF.


Cardiac Rehabilitation

A cardiac rehabilitation program may involve a combination of: monitored exercise, nutritional counseling, emotional support, and education about lifestyle changes to reduce your risks of heart problems. The goals of our cardiac rehabilitation program are to help you regain your strength, prevention your current health condition from worsening, and reducing your risk of future heart problems.

The cardiac rehabilitation program at Anaheim Regional Medical Center is designed to help you recover from a heart attack, or any other heart disease or surgery that may have been performed to treat heart disease. For more information about our Cardiac Rehabilitation Services, please call (714) 999-6035.


Cardiac Receiving Center

AHMC Anaheim Regional Medical Center's Emergency Department is a designated cardiac receiving center for STEMI patients. An ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) is a form of heart attack*, and it is important that those who experience a STEMI be treated within 90 minutes of the first onset of symptoms. Orange County residents with chest pain who call 9-1-1 will automatically be directed to a STEMI center, where our cardiac expertise and facilities are ready 24-hours-a-day, seven days-a-week. The STEMI receiving team works in conjunction with the cardiovascular department to provide the best cardiac care available.

*heart attack, known as a myocardial infarction, occurs when the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle is blocked. This usually occurs when there is a clot within the coronary artery. A blockage of this nature would result in an abnormal heart rhythm, decreased blood flow to and from the heart, and may result in a sudden sharp shooting pain in any of the following areas: the left shoulder or arm, down your back, around your neck, in your jaws, or beneath your breast bone.


Heart Failure Program

Heart failure means that your heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs. Over time, certain heart conditions, such as narrowed arteries (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure gradually leave your heart too weak or too stiff to pump and receive blood efficiently.

The Heart Failure program at Anaheim Regional Medical Center seeks to help individuals and their families through the use of a range of different services from education on lifestyle modifications to medication management. Our highly specialized staff will work with you to help you achieve a higher quality of life and decrease the amount of time you spend hospitalized as a result of heart failure. For more information about the Heart Failure Program, please call (714) 999-2848.


Open Heart Surgery

Anaheim Regional Medical Center has the second largest volume of open heart surgeries in Orange County. Our physicians are specially trained in cardiovascular surgery and seek to provide our patients with high-quality comprehensive medical care that is specific to your needs. For more information about our Open Heart Surgery Services, please call (714) 774-1450.