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Treatment for Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) is a disease of the heart muscle. ARVC is a rare genetic disease. Normal heart muscle breaks down, being replaced with fatty fibrous tissue, mainly in the right ventricle. These changes may also happen in the left ventricle. Abnormal electrical circuits in the heart muscle may develop, leading to irregular and possibly dangerous heart rhythms (arrhythmias). The heart also becomes weaker over time. This can lead to heart failure.

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Types of treatment

ARVC is treated by a cardiologist. This is a healthcare provider who specializes in diseases of the heart.

ARVC can be treated with medicines. These include:

  • Medicines to help prevent abnormal heart rhythms (antiarrhythmics)

  • Medicines to control your heart rate, such as beta-blockers

  • Water pills (diuretics) to reduce swelling

  • Medicines to reduce the workload of the heart, like ACE inhibitors

Man taking pills in kitchen.

Other possible treatments include:

  • Catheter ablation. This is an option for some people with ARVC and abnormal heart rhythms. The healthcare provider places a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into a blood vessel and guides it into your heart. There, they use heat or cold to destroy the tissue causing the abnormal heart rhythms.

  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). An ICD is a small device put in your chest or below your left armpit. It uses electrical shocks to treat you if you have a dangerous heart rhythm. This can help prevent sudden death. Your healthcare provider will check your symptoms and test results to see if you need an ICD.

  • Heart transplant. In rare cases, a heart transplant may be needed if the damage to the heart is severe.

Living with ARVC

Your cardiologist may give you instructions for how to manage your ARVC. These may include:

  • Limiting heavy physical activity, including competitive sports

  • Treating any other heart conditions, such as unhealthy cholesterol levels

  • Losing excess weight

  • Quitting smoking

  • Eating a low-salt diet that’s healthy for your heart

  • Reducing the amount of alcohol and caffeine in your diet (these increase the risk for abnormal heart rhythms)

  • Keeping track of your symptoms, such as fast weight gain or swelling

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Chest pain

  • Fainting

  • Severe trouble breathing

  • Fast weight gain

  • Swelling in your body

  • Palpitations

  • Symptoms that are getting worse

Online Medical Reviewer: Anne Clayton APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Steven Kang MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2022
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