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A normal heartbeat is controlled by a smooth, constant flow of electricity through the heart. A short-circuit anywhere along this electrical pathway can disrupt the normal flow of signals, causing an arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat). Cardiac ablation is a procedure used to destroy these short-circuits and restore normal rhythm, or to block damaged electrical pathways from sending faulty signals to the rest of the heart.

Though it may feel like the heart has skipped a beat, a premature heartbeat occurs when the heart's regular rhythm is interrupted by an early or even extra heartbeat. If the beat arises from locations in the atria (upper chambers) it is called premature atrial contraction (PAC). If it arises from the ventricles (lower chambers), it is called premature ventricular complexes (PVC). In most cases, neither is considered serious.

September marks National Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Awareness Month, a critically important time for the Heart Rhythm Society to raise awareness for this life threatening arrhythmia. Our efforts are focused on helping the public become more familiar with the symptoms, warning signs, and available treatment options. Given the growing prevalence of AFib, in September 2009, HRS worked with other organizations to have the United States Senate officially designate September as National AFib Awareness Month.

Since then, September has been a time when we implement and promote AFib awareness programs and initiatives. This September was no different. I want to take this time to highlight the work we’ve done alongside our members to celebrate and recognize AFib Awareness Month this year.

More than 350,000 deaths occur each year as a result of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). In fact, SCA claims one life every two minutes, taking more lives each year than breast cancer, lung cancer, or AIDS. To decrease the death toll from SCA, it is important to understand what SCA is, what warning signs are, and how to respond and prevent SCA from occurring.

More than 65 percent of Americans not only underestimate the seriousness of SCA, but also believe SCA is a type of heart attack. But they are not the same thing.