What is arrhythmia?

 

An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm or heartbeat. A cardiac arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm, where the heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or irregularly. Arrhythmia is caused by a problem in the heart’s electrical system, the signals that stimulate the heart muscle to contract and relax. Some forms of arrhythmia occur in a healthy heart and are harmless, but arrhythmia may also indicate the presence of a more serious medical condition.

Types of arrhythmia

Different types of arrhythmia are present. Let see some one by one.

Ventricular

Arrhythmia that occur in the atria (the top chambers of the heart) are supraventricular (above the ventricles) in origin, whereas ventricular arrhythmias start in the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart).

The ventricles are the heart’s main pumping chambers, and the majority of the potentially lethal arrhythmias are ventricular in origin.

Superventricular

Arrhythmia that occur in the atria (the top chambers of the heart) are supraventricular (above the ventricles) in origin. These arrhythmias are not responsible for dramatic events such as sudden cardiac death, but the most common arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, is supraventricular and can lead to fatal strokes.

Tachycardia

A healthy heart will normally beat in a steady and coordinated way. It will slow down or speed up depending on the body’s needs. The rate at which your heart beats is important because it influences how much blood and oxygen circulates around the body.

When the heart rhythm is under normal control, it is referred to as sinus rhythm. When in sinus rhythm the heart’s natural pacemaker controls the rhythm. The hormones and nervous system of the body affect this pacemaker and help in determining the heart rate.

Bradycardia

A healthy heart will normally beat in a steady and coordinated way. It will slow down or speed up depending on the body’s needs. The rate at which your heart beats is important because it influences how much blood and oxygen circulates around the body.

When the heart rhythm is under normal control, it is referred to as sinus rhythm. When in sinus rhythm the heart’s natural pacemaker controls the rhythm. The hormones and nervous system of the body affect this pacemaker and help in determining the heart rate.

Common Causes of Arrhythmias

Arrhythmia happen when the electrical signals that control heartbeat don’t work properly.

This can happen if the nerve cells that send the electrical signals are damaged or if the electrical signals don’t travel properly through the heart.

Normal heartbeat can also be disrupted if the heart produces too many electrical signals.

Sometimes the cause of an arrhythmia is unknown.

Arrhythmias are common in older adults. Older adults are more likely to have heart disease, high blood pressure, and other health conditions that can cause arrhythmias.

Some medications can also cause arrhythmias as a side effect.

Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that can cause arrhythmias include tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), antihistamines, and beta blockers.

Additionally, illegal drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines, and stimulants including caffeine and nicotine, can cause arrhythmias.

Some Common Symptoms Of Arrhythmia

Many arrhythmias don’t cause any symptoms.

If they do, common signs and symptoms of an arrhythmia may include:

Palpitations (may feel like fluttering in your chest, like your heart is skipping a beat, or like it is beating too hard or too fast)
Feeling pauses between heartbeats or an irregular pattern
Fatigue, weakness, lightheadedness
A slow heartbeat
Some arrhythmias are medical emergencies. During an arrhythmia, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body and the heart may stop working.

If you experience the following symptoms, call 9-1-1:

Significant weakness, dizziness, or light-headedness
Fainting or feeling like you are going to faint
Shortness of breath
Chest pain

How to Diagnosis Arrhythmia?

There are a number of tests and devices that may be used to detect an arrhythmia.

Diagnosing an arrhythmia usually requires recording the heart’s electrical activity using an electrocardiogram, or ECG.

A Holter monitor — a portable, 24-hour ECG — may also be ordered by your doctor.

Small patches or stickers called electrodes will be stuck to several spots on your chest and body.

These electrodes will generate a picture of your heart’s electrical activity so doctors can see where any irregularities may occur.

An echocardiogram — a type of ultrasound that uses sound waves to produce images of your heart — may also be used to diagnose arrhythmia.

Stress tests, which use physical exertion (such as running on a treadmill) or drugs to simulate such exercise, can trigger an arrhythmia and help a doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

Risk Factors For Arrhythmias

Common risk factors for arrhythmias include:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure or cardiomyopathy
    Abnormal heart valves
  • Congenital (present at birth) heart defects
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Smoking
  • Use of some prescription or over-the-counter medicines Use of some street drugs (cocaine or amphetamines)
    Too much caffeine or nicotine
  • Extreme emotional stress or anger
  • Arrhythmia Treatments
  • Arrhythmias can be treated with drugs, medical procedures, or surgery.

Medications can slow down a heartbeat that is too fast. They can also be used to even out or stabilize an abnormal heart rhythm.

Classes of drugs used to treat arrhythmias include beta blockers, anticoagulants, calcium channel blockers, and anti-arrhythmic drugs.

Some arrhythmias, including heartbeats that are too slow, can be treated with a pacemaker.

A pacemaker is a medical device that’s placed under the skin on your chest. The device electronically monitors and (by sending electrical impulses to your heart) moderates your heartbeat.

Arrhythmias caused by coronary artery disease may be treated with an intracoronary stent or a coronary artery bypass graft, or CABG.

In a CABG, a surgeon implants a piece of healthy blood vessel (usually taken from a leg or arm) to create a bypass around a blocked coronary artery.

Home Remedies for Arrhythmia

Regardless of any medical interventions that are recommended for treating arrhythmia, your doctor may also advise common-sense lifestyle changes, including:

Eating a healthy, low-fat, low-sodium diet
Getting regular exercise
Quitting smoking
Avoiding obesity
Additionally, some arrhythmias can be treated with simple home exercises called vagal maneuvers that can help control heart rate.

 

Please must consult cardiologist if you have serious arrhythmias problem. If you are living in London, UK, than i suggest you consult with Dr Boon Lim – Best Cardiologist in London.

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