Currently, there is no known cure for arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD). Treatment generally focuses on trying to reduce the symptoms, especially arrhythmia.
Medications: Medications called antiarrhythmic agents have been developed that can reduce the severity and intensity of heart arrhythmias. A commonly used antiarrhythmic agent is called a beta-blocker, which blocks proteins located on the heart called beta receptors. Blocking beta receptors reduces the action of the hormone epinephrine, which results in a relaxed beating of the heart. Some common beta-blockers are atenolol (Tenormin®), bisoprolol (Zebeta®), metoprolol (Lopressor®), and carvedilol (Coreg®). Side effects of beta-blockers may include fatigue, cold hands and feet, and sleep disturbances. Another class of drugs, called ACE-inhibitors, may be used by some patients. ACE-inhibitors make it easier for the heart to pump blood by enlarging blood vessels and reducing blood pressure.
Avoid stimulants: Patients with ARVD should avoid stimulants such as nicotine or caffeine, as these substances may increase the risk of arrhythmia.
Reduce exercise: It is often recommended that patients with ARVD do not overexert themselves when exercising. Too much exercise can increase the strain on the heart and may lead to sudden cardiac death. Patients should engage only in mild forms of exercise, all of which should be discussed with a doctor.
Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD): An ICD is a device that is implanted in the body of a patient in order to measure the rhythm of the heart. Whenever the heart rhythm becomes abnormal, the ICD can deliver an electric shock to the patient's heart, returning the rhythm to normal. An ICD is similar to a pacemaker, but it is generally recommended for longer term use and for more serious conditions, due to its ability to give off higher energy pulses.
Surgical ablation: The specific area of the heart that has undergone deterioration may be surgically removed from a patient with ARVD. This procedure may be successful in treating arrhythmias caused by deterioration in a specific area. Because ARVD is a progressive disease, however, this is not considered a permanent cure.
Heart transplant: In very severe cases, a heart transplant may be used to treat ARVD. A heart transplant is often only performed after other treatments have been tried and found to be ineffective.
Note: Currently, there is insufficient evidence available on the safety and effectiveness of integrative therapies for the prevention or treatment of arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD). The integrative therapies listed below should be used only under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider and should not be used in replacement of other proven therapies or preventive measures.
Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence
L-carnitine: L-carnitine, or acetyl-L-carnitine, is an amino acid found in the body. L-carnitine has been reported to be beneficial in maintaining a healthy heart. Although preliminary results are promising, well-designed clinical trials investigating the effect of L-carnitine on arrhythmias are lacking in the available literature. High quality clinical research is needed in this area.
Omega-3 fatty acids: There is evidence from multiple clinical studies supporting the intake of omega-3 fatty acid (also known as fish or fish oil) supplements for a healthy heart. Fish oil supplements have been reported to lower triglycerides and reduce the risk of death, heart attack, and stroke in people with known heart disease. Fish oil may also slow the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques (hardening of the arteries) and lower blood pressure slightly. There is promising evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of cardiac arrhythmias. Additional research is needed in this area specifically before a firm conclusion can be reached. Omega-3 fatty acids may increase the chances of bleeding, especially if the individual is taking blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin®). It is important to choose fish and fish oils that are free of heavy metals such as mercury and lead.
Traditional Chinese Medicine: Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a broad term encompassing many different methods and traditions of healing, such as acupuncture, herbal medicines, cupping, and moxibustion. They share a common heritage of technique or theory rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy (Taoism) which dates back over 5,000 years. TCM herb combinations have been used to stabilize arrhythmia after viral myocarditis (inflammation of the heart). However, research designs have been weak and more studies of better design are needed before recommendations can be made.
Fair or negative scientific evidence
Aconite: Isolated constituents from aconite (Aconitum napellus) have been used in heart arrhythmias. However, the toxic effects, including dizziness and flushing of the face, associated with the administration of aconite limit its ability to be used clinically as an agent to treat bradycardias (slow heart rate). The clinical relevance of using aconite in clinical practice is limited until further large, randomized controlled studies are conducted.
Traditional or theoretical uses lacking sufficient evidence
Integrative therapies used in the management of arrhythmias that have historical or theoretical uses but lack sufficient clinical evidence include: abuta (Cissampelos pareira), astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), bael fruit (Aegle marmelos), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis), devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens), dong quai (Angelica sinensis), hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha), hypnotherapy, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), massage, meditation, mistletoe (Viscum album), white horehound (Marrubium vulgare), and yohimbe bark extract (Pausinystalia yohimbe).
There are currently no known ways to prevent arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD).