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HealthInfo Canterbury

Heart treatments & surgery

As well as major surgery such as heart bypass and valve surgery, some heart problems are treated with non-surgical or less invasive procedures.

Cardioversion

Cardioversion can restore your heart rhythm to normal, by applying a small electric shock to your chest. It is carried out under a brief general anaesthetic.

Pacemakers

A pacemaker monitors and treats heart rhythm problems, reducing the risks that go with them. It is implanted during a surgical procedure. You will not be completely anaesthetised but you will be sedated and given a local anaesthetic to numb the area. You can find out more about pacemakers in this leaflet from Canterbury DHB's Cardiology Department.

You can also find out more about pacemakers from the Heart Foundation.

Angioplasty and heart stents

During an angioplasty a long, flexible tube (a catheter) is put into the blood vessels around your heart. A tiny balloon at the end of the tube is inflated in the area where you have a narrowed artery or vein. This opens up the blockage. A stent, or a small mesh tube, is then left in the area to keep your blood vessel open. This helps to restore oxygen to the area of your heart that was affected by the blockage.

Angioplasties are used to treat some people with heart attacks or angina. This guide to coronary angioplasty from Canterbury DHB explains what happens in more detail.

You can also find out more about angioplasty and stents from the Heart Foundation.

Defibrillators

An implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) monitors, treats, and reduces the risks of fast, abnormal heart rhythm problems. It is implanted during a surgical procedure. You will not be completely anaesthetised but you will be sedated and given a local anaesthetic to numb the area. This leaflet from Canterbury DHB's Cardiology Department explains more about ICDs, how they are inserted, and what happens once you have one.

Ablation therapy

Radiofrequency ablation is a treatment that can help to correct heart rhythm problems (also called arrhythmias). Using X-rays, a cardiologist (heart doctor) puts three to five long wires into your heart, inserting them through your groin and passing them through your blood vessels. They are then used to burn the area that's causing the short circuit and stop your heart rhythm problems.

Radiofrequency ablation takes from one to three hours. It's a low-risk treatment that is usually very successful. You will not be completely anaesthetised but you will be sedated and given a local anaesthetic to numb the area.

Radiofrequency ablation is sometimes used to treat atrial fibrillation.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Cardiology, Canterbury DHB. Page created February 2016.

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Page reference: 191515

Review key: HIHDR-25619