Arrhythmia or Cardiac Arrhythmia or dysrhythmia is a heart disorder where the heart beats irregularly.
This irregular beating of the heart can be slow, fast, premature, or erratic. This happens due to the improper functioning of electrical impulses that direct the heart to beat.
While almost everyone at some point in their lives faces Arrhythmia, which is a common occurrence, it can be life-threatening when it interferes with the blood flow as it can potentially damage vital organs like the brain and lungs and also increase the risk of stroke and cardiac arrest.
In this article let’s dive deep into what Arrhythmia is.
What is a normal heartbeat?
The normal heartbeat of a healthy heart varies between 60 and 10 per minute.
A heartbeat consists of two variations at successive intervals. One is a sound the heart makes when it contracts to oxygenate blood that has already circulated across the body and the other is the sound of it pushing oxygenated blood around the body.
What are the types of Arrhythmia?
There are many types of Arrhythmia as described below.
- Atrial fibrillation – It is a rapid heartbeat condition due to chaotic electrical impulses in the atria.
- Atrial flutter – While it is similar to Atrial Fibrillation, Atrial flutter can develop into a stroke.
- Supraventricular tachycardia – In this, Arrhythmia originates above the ventricles and causes abrupt palpitations
- Ventricular tachycardia – The improper electrical impulses in the ventricles causes rapid heartbeats.
- Ventricular fibrillation – It is rapid and uncoordinated contractions of the ventricles. It is life-threatening and may be caused by a heart attack.
- Long QT Syndrome – In this, the rapid and uncoordinated heartbeats may make a person faint.
When the heart beats too fast, it is called tachycardia, too slow and it is called bradycardia, and fibrillation when it beats too erratic.
Signs and symptoms
While Arrhythmia does not have many noticeable symptoms there are a few signs that may suggest it. Some of them are:
- Feeling of heart skipping a beat
- Fluttering in neck or chest
- Irregular and slow heartbeat
- Rapid heartbeat
While the above are a few signs of Arrhythmia, you may develop the below symptoms as a result of your heart not functioning properly.
- Difficulty in breathing
- Chest pains
You need to Consult a Doctor if you sense any of the above symptoms as it may develop into a life-threatening condition.
As mentioned above, Arrhythmia is caused due to the improper functioning of the electrical impulses that make a heartbeat.
Many factors like medical, physical, emotional, and genetics can influence this functioning. Some of the common factors include:
- Excessive drinking of coffee
- Overactive thyroid gland or hyperthyroidism
- Certain medications taken for High Blood pressure, Diabetes, Allergies, or Cold
- Heart diseases or earlier cardiac arrests
- Structural changes in heart
- Substance abuse
While most people with a healthy heart do not notice Arrhythmia, one must consult with a doctor to understand the seriousness of their condition. Your doctor will diagnose you and determine if you require a treatment to prevent the condition from getting worse.
Some of the common complications you can develop due to irregular heartbeat are stroke and heart failure.
Irrespective of your condition, we also recommend maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle with a balanced diet and controlled blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
To diagnose the condition, your doctor will first try to identify the source and the trigger through your complete medical and family health history, diet, and lifestyle.
Your doctor will also suggest the below tests to determine it.
- Blood and urine test
- Wearable device to track your heartbeat record for 1 to 2 days
- Chest X-ray
- Heart catheterization
- Electrophysiological testing
Risk factors and prevention
The following factors may increase a person’s risk of developing Arrhythmia
- Excessive smoking and drinking
- People older than 65 years
- Genetic anomalies
- Underlying heart disorders
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Thyroid condition
- Sleep apnea
- Excessive caffeine intake
As you might already be aware, preventing the above factors can go a long way in not just preventing Arrhythmia, but also healthy and long life.