Cardiac arrhythmias encompass a wide spectrum of abnormalities in electrical generation and conduction at all levels within the heart. They can manifest in either tachycardia or bradycardia. The clinical significance of these cardiac arrhythmias is predominantly related to the hemodynamic consequences and the risk of a life-threatening consequence (e.g., ventricular fibrillation) in addition to associated symptoms. Clinical and basic laboratory research have offered insight into the mechanisms underlying various arrhythmias and provided valuable tools for their treatment.
Historically, pharmacological therapy has been widely used in the management of arrhythmias, and to a large extent, this remains true. Nonpharmacological therapy has begun to play an increasingly important role in curing (ablation) many arrhythmias and preventing life-threatening consequences of others (e.g., greater application of implantable cardioverter-defibrillator therapy for both primary and secondary prevention of sudden cardiac death).
However, current understanding and available technologies are far from ideal for the assessment and treatment of all cardiac arrhythmias. For example, we still strive to achieve more thorough understanding of the underlying mechanisms of many arrhythmias and develop safer antiarrhythmic drugs (i.e., without negative inotropic or proarrhythmic effects). It is expected that the introduction of easier-to-use and more optimal imaging systems for interventional electrophysiology and the clinical application of biological repair of pacemaker cell and conduction abnormalities will substantially improve quality of care in patients with cardiac arrhythmias.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.