Health News Articles

Treating an Irregular Heartbeat

Jun 1, 2013

Treating an Irregular Heartbeat

Many people experience occasional irregular heartbeats or palpitations—the sensation that the heart skips a beat, flutters or stops and starts again.

However, when an irregular heartbeat happens frequently, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath, light-headedness or fainting, evaluation by an electrical specialist of the heart, called a cardiac electrophysiologist, may be required.

University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP) offers comprehensive services to diagnose and coordinate treatment for arrhythmias, which are caused by misfires in the electrical impulses that control the heart.

“Heart palpitations may be harmless, but they can be very worrisome for patients,” says Eran S. Zacks, MD , (pictured right), a cardiac electrophysiologist on staff at UMCPP, who is board certified in cardiovascular disease, clinical cardiac electrophysiology and internal medicine. “We use the latest technologies to determine which palpitations are benign and which may require treatment.”

Arrythmias are diagnosed with state-of-the-art technology including:

  • Cardiac stress tests: A continuous electrocardiogram (EKG) monitors electrical activity in the heart during exercise.
  • Echocardiogram: A painless ultrasound of the heart helps determine whether a structural defect is causing an arrhythmia.
  • Personal arrhythmia monitoring devices: Patients are fitted with devices that record electrical signals for up to several weeks at a time, including devices that transmit real-time results using wireless phone technology.

Treatment may involve medication or procedures including implantation of a pacemaker or cardiac defibrillator, or a cardiac catheterization procedure known as cardiac ablation, says Dr. Zacks.

For assistance finding a physician affiliated with Princeton HealthCare System, call 1.888.PHCS4YOU (1.888.742.7496) or visit

Princeton HealthCare System Community Education & Outreach also offers a bimonthly support group for people with implanted cardiac devices. For more information or to register, please call 1.888.897.8979.