Potential ARVC/D treatments and outlook

Two primary goals of ARVC/D treatment are to:

  1. Reduce the frequency and severity of ventricular arrhythmias; particularly to prevent arrhythmic death.
  2. Prevent or limit the worsening of ventricular function and heart failure.

Treatment options vary by patient, and are based on a patient’s medical history and cardiac test results. The three most common treatments for arrhythmias are:

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD)

Implantable cardioverter defibrillators are commonly used to treat patients with ARVC/D. These devices continuously monitor the heartbeat and automatically deliver an electrical shock to the heart if an irregular heartbeat or rapid, sustained heart rhythm from the ventricles occurs.

Medication

Medications can be used to decrease the number of arrhythmia episodes and the severity of an arrhythmia. Medications alter the electrical properties of the heart in one of two ways:

  • Directly – These medications affect the electrical currents in the heart.
  • Indirectly – Medications such as beta blockers block the effects of adrenalin or improve blood flow to the heart. Beta Blockers are a safe and commonly used type of medication.
Catheter ablation

This treatment involves locating and cauterizing the areas of the heart causing arrhythmias. Radiofrequency energy (RF) is used to destroy (ablate) the tissue. This can reduce the frequency of arrhythmic episodes.

Catheter ablation is an invasive procedure. It is important for patients to have a thorough discussion with their physicians about the risks and benefits of catheter ablation before undergoing this procedure.

Long-term outlook

The long-term outlook for most people with ARVC/D is relatively good.

Some patients will have a stable functioning heart for decades, while others may have spells of arrhythmias that require changes in medication or ablations. A few patients develop such severe heart dysfunction or frequent episodes of ventricular tachycardia that a heart transplant may be necessary.