Why do arrhythmias matter?

by Expat Life
Sukumvit Hospital employs advanced technology to minimise the risk of stroke as a result of irregular heartbeat.
A dangerous turn of events

Cardiac arrhythmias (also known as irregular heartbeat) is a group of conditions that describe the unusual pacing of an individual’s heart rate. They are categorised into slow heartbeat (bradycardia); fast heartbeat (tachycardia) and irregular heartbeats that are a combination of slow and fast can be described as a flutter or fibrillation. If left untreated, these conditions can lead to several complications including heart failure and cardiac arrest. They can also cause life-threatening strokes, which occur when the heart does not pump blood out efficiently, leading to it pooling and forming clots that can then travel to the brain. This unfortunate sequence of events happened to a 60-year old patient named Khun Sakolthan who had been taking controlled medication to regulate his heartbeat for over 10 years. He was under the impression he was in good health up until the day of his stroke, which unfortunately happened when his wife was out of the house running errands.

Khun Sakolthan and Khun Suthanya

Khun Sakolthan described how he had ordered food to be delivered when he felt a sudden onset of dizziness coupled with a stabbing pain in his head. He was afraid he would collapse so he sat down. Luckily, before his condition worsened, the food delivery man arrived and was able to contact building personnel and his wife so he could be transported to Sukumvit Hospital. After an explanation from his wife Khun Sutthanya about what occurred, doctors put the patient through a brain examination using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that showed that he had blood clots in his brain. He then had to choose between a surgical procedure or an alternative that allows doctors to suck out the blood clots without the need for surgery. He picked the latter, and medical professionals at Sukumvit Hospital were able to administer treatment immediately, helping him evade further complications. 

Better to be safe than sorry

But what if a patient is not as lucky as Khun Sakolthan? If someone were to suffer the same sudden onset symptoms of a stroke when they were alone, there is a high chance the individual would be unconscious for hours. This increases the risk of developing blood deficiency in the brain leading to disability or even death. Therefore, it is crucial to use our knowledge of cardiac arrhythmias to our advantage, as they can be a telling sign of complications that might arise in the future.

Dr.Nivit KalraDr. Nivit Kalra, cardiology specialist at Sukumvit Hospital who examined and treated Khun Sakolthan said “patients who suffer from stroke must first identify its cause so that treatment can be administered efficiently. In this case, we recognised that the patient was already taking medication to regulate his rapid heart rate. However, after recordings taken with an electrocardiogram (a device worn over 24 hours that records heart rate) we identified that his heart beat had instances of rapid ventricular response and slow ventricular response. In patients with AF (heart rate that is both too fast and too slow at times) treatment can be complicated, as patients can take medication to combat rapid heart rate but this increases the risk of bradycardia, a very slow heartbeat of only 20-30 beats per minute, when the heart rate slows down.”

Tailor-made treatment

DR. Apichai PhokawattanaProfessionals at Sukumvit Hospital recognised that adjusting the patient’s medication for AF would not suffice as it would leave him in danger of having another stroke. Instead, he required a personalised treatment plan that addressed all of his symptoms including the minimising the risk of stroke while still tackling the irregular heartbeat itself. Dr. Apichai Phokawattana, a cardiac physician specialising in arrhythmia cases at Sukumvit Hospital explains that patients in this situation would benefit from a pacemaker—a device that can be inserted into the heart to regulate its beating.The standard pacemaker consists of a battery and signal cable which has been used successfully for a long time. However, its limitations involve the chance of the wires becoming loose. A more advanced version of the pacemaker is the wireless pacemaker—a device as small as a medical capsule with no loose wires that offers the same functionality as its older counterpart.

There are several advantages of opting for a wireless pacemaker. The procedure of inserting the device is less invasive than the standard. It involves a small incision where the device travels through a vein in the leg to the heart. The recovery period is short as well, as patients only have to refrain from bending their legs for six hours after the pacemaker has been inserted and can return to living their lives as normal. They will also be able to take part in physical therapy without the concern of wires becoming loose. After receiving his pacemaker, Khun Sakolthan was content with the ease of the procedure and quick recovery time. He said “I live nearby and my mother and father used to visit this hospital when it was only four floors. Despite growing in size, its high quality remains the same. It is modern and cutting-edge and the medical personnel are very well-versed in their areas of expertise.”

Sukumvit Hospital began its operations in 1977, has just completed a major makeover. Not only have they built a brand new building, but the entire team of doctors, specialists, nurses and assistants have all been trained with the singular aim of helping their patients maintain optimum health. Then there are the equipment, stateof-the-art MRIs, Cath labs and myriad of others, so that their specialists have the best available tools for diagnosis and treatment. Conveniently located on Sukhumvit Road with English speaking staff, Sukumvit Hospital is now ready for any emergencies or treatments.

Sukumvit Hospital
1411 Sukhumvit Road (Ekkamai BTS) Prakanong Nua, Wattana, Bangkok, Thailand 10110 Tel: 02 391 0011

www.sukumvithospital.com Facebook: @sukumvithospital

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