Cardiac arrhythmias

Dr. Ignacio García Bolao, especialista en cardiología de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

diagnosis and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias

The Clinica Universidad de Navarra is a national reference centre for the treatment of heart disease.

As pioneers in the implementation of new therapeutic techniques, we have considerable experience in the study, detection and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias.

The Clínica was the first centre in Europe to avoid open surgery on patients with coronary venous obstruction by implanting pacemakers through catheterisation. The Clinic was also one of the pioneering centres in the subcutaneous implantation of the smallest device for detecting cardiac arrhythmias, among other innovations in the specialty.

The Clínica’s Department of Cardiology has an Arrhythmia Unit specialised in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, which facilitates the development of new procedures, such as a new catheterisation technique for patients with persistent arrhythmia that can be performed in a single procedure and avoids the use of anticoagulant drugs.

The Clínica’s specialists perform the procedure for closing the atrial cavity known as the atrial appendage (where thrombi are commonly generated) during the same operation for the treatment of atrial fibrillation.

The Clínica Universidad de Navarra has extensive experience in the study, detection and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. [Video only available in Spanish]

The advantages of the technique with cryoablation for the patient, compared with radiofrequency ablation, are the greater speed and simplicity of the procedure".

The Clínica’s Department of Cardiology has an Arrhythmia Unit specialised in the diagnosis and treatment of your disease.

When a patient has symptoms, the diagnosis is usually performed by means of an electrocardiogram.

The diagnosis of most arrhythmias requires two phases. The first phase is for ruling out the presence of structural heart disease, and the second is for the specific characterisation of the type of arrhythmia.

One of the most useful diagnostic tools is the Holter or ambulatory electrocardiographic monitor [SP]. This is a very easy-to-perform, noninvasive examination. The system performs a continuous electrocardiogram over an extended period of time, usually between 24 and 48 hours and up to 7 days.

It records the patient’s heartbeat for one or more days, which enables the operator to determine the type and frequency of the arrhythmias.

The Clinica Universidad de Navarra is one of the nine pioneering centres in Spain in the implementation of the smallest subcutaneous Holter system, a device indicated for remote monitoring of arrhythmias and other cardiac events for a period of up to three years.

When the electrocardiogram is not sufficient, an electrophysiological study might be necessary. The study is performed through intracardiac conduction using catheters, which are inserted into a vein in the leg. With this technique, the type and mechanism of the arrhythmia can be studied using these electrodes in the heart.

Anticoagulants are substances that interfere with the blood’s clotting process.

There are certain arrhythmias (such as atrial fibrillation) that can increase the risk of strokes. 

This risk can be reduced by using oral anticoagulants such as Sintrom [SP]®, the most widely known and used anticoagulant in Spain.

This treatment requires regular laboratory check-ups. The most widely used test is the prothrombin time, from which the parameter known as the international normalised ratio (INR) is derived. Each patient requires a specific INR, and each laboratory will adjust the dosage of Sintrom® to maintain the INR in the proper range. At present, there are new oral anticoagulants that, unlike Sintrom®, do not require periodic check-ups.

The most significant complication of anticoagulant treatment is haemorrhaging, which is related to the drug dosage and the patient’s age (e.g., older than 75 years).

The Clínica's Arrhythmia Unit is one of the most experienced units in the treatment of this type of disease.

The Unit has also been a pioneer in a number of the techniques for treating this pathology:

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