Question: How does a previous heart attack affect my risk of developing an abnormal heart rhythm?
Answer :Having a heart attack will definitely impact on the potential development of an arrhythmia. Now, that depends upon how severe the heart attack was, where it was, whether it was reversed promptly by an interventional cardiologist, but the scar that the heart attack produces can result in arrhythmias subsequently. It's often due to that reentry mechanism where the reentry occurs around the scar. It can range from a mere palpitation, a premature beat that an individual experiences to something as severe as ventricular fibrillation and sudden death.
If in addition to the heart attack, there is reduced heart function -- and we generally measure that by something called an ejection fraction -- so if there's a heart attack and a reduced ejection fraction, then that individual is indeed at risk for potentially very serious heart rhythm problems and at times we treat that individual by implanting a cardioverter defibrillator, that very specialized pacemaker-like device that can recognize the ventricular fibrillation and shock the heart back to a normal rhythm.