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Home » Treatment » Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia

Heart arrhythmias occur when the electrical impulses that coordinates the heartbeats don’t work correctly, resulting in the heart beating too fast, too slow, or irregularly. Some arrhythmias are harmless, and some cause even life-threatening — signs and symptoms.

To reduce your arrhythmia risks, schedule an appointment with the doctor, and adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle.

 

Types of Arrhythmia

Arrhythmias are classified not only by where they originate (atria or ventricles) but by the heart rate they cause:

Tachycardia: This indicates a rapid heartbeat — a resting heart rate greater than 100 beats a minute.

Bradycardia: This indicates a slow heartbeat — a resting heart rate less than 60 beats a minute.

There are several types of arrhythmia, as described here:

  • Atrial fibrillation: This is the irregular beating of the atrial chambers, mostly involving tachycardia.
  • Atrial flutter: Atrial flutter is the quiver usually from one area in the atrium that is not conducting correctly, causing the consistent pattern in the abnormal heart conduction.
  • Supraventricular tachycardia: It is the rapid but rhythmically steady beating of the heart.
  • Ventricular tachycardia: Uncommon electrical impulses start in the ventricles and cause an abnormally fast heartbeat, often due to scar from a previous heart attack.
  • Ventricular fibrillation: It is the heart's irregular rhythm consisting of rapid, uncoordinated, and fluttering contractions of the ventricles. It can be fatal and is triggered by a heart attack.
  • Long QT syndrome: This syndrome causes rapid, uncoordinated heartbeats, resulting in fainting, which may be life-threatening.
Causes of Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia is caused by any interruption to the electrical impulses that stimulate heart contractions.

Various factors causing the heart to work incorrectly are:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • diabetes
  • substance use disorder
  • Consuming too much coffee
  • heart disease, example, congestive heart failure
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland
  • stress
  • scarring of the heart, due to a heart attack
  • smoking
  • certain dietary and herbal supplements
  • some medications
  • structural changes in the heart

Causes of Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia is caused by any interruption to the electrical impulses that stimulate heart contractions.

Various factors causing the heart to work incorrectly are:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • diabetes
  • substance use disorder
  • Consuming too much coffee
  • heart disease, example, congestive heart failure
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland
  • stress
  • scarring of the heart, due to a heart attack
  • smoking
  • certain dietary and herbal supplements
  • some medications
  • structural changes in the heart

Symptoms

Arrhythmias usually do not manifest any signs or symptoms. You may get to know you have arrhythmia when the doctor conducts a routine examination. Noticeable signs and symptoms which show that you may have a severe problem.

Noticeable arrhythmia symptoms may include:

  • A fluttering in your chest
  • A racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • A slow heartbeat (Bradycardia)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Other symptoms may include:
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Fainting (syncope) or near fainting

Symptoms

Arrhythmias usually do not manifest any signs or symptoms. You may get to know you have arrhythmia when the doctor conducts a routine examination. Noticeable signs and symptoms which show that you may have a severe problem.

Noticeable arrhythmia symptoms may include:

  • A fluttering in your chest
  • A racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • A slow heartbeat (Bradycardia)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Other symptoms may include:
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Fainting (syncope) or near fainting

Diagnosis

When diagnosing an arrhythmia, the doctor will identify the unusual heartbeat and try to identify its source or trigger. The doctor may enquire about your medical history, family history, diet, and lifestyle.

A doctor may request the following tests to support an arrhythmia diagnosis:

  • blood and urine
  • EKG
  • A Holter monitor, a wearable device to record the heart for 1–2 days
  • echocardiogram
  • chest X-ray
  • a tilt-table test which identifies the fall in the sudden drop in blood pressure or heart rate
  • electrophysiologic testing
  • heart catheterization

Diagnosis

When diagnosing an arrhythmia, the doctor will identify the unusual heartbeat and try to identify its source or trigger. The doctor may enquire about your medical history, family history, diet, and lifestyle.

A doctor may request the following tests to support an arrhythmia diagnosis:

  • blood and urine
  • EKG
  • A Holter monitor, a wearable device to record the heart for 1–2 days
  • echocardiogram
  • chest X-ray
  • a tilt-table test which identifies the fall in the sudden drop in blood pressure or heart rate
  • electrophysiologic testing
  • heart catheterization

Treatments

There are various treatments for arrhythmia, depending on heart conditions. The different arrhythmias require particular treatments.

Treatments for Bradycardia

The doctor will treat any underlying condition that causes Bradycardia. If no underlying problem is discovered, then the doctor may advise implanting a pacemaker. The pacemaker is a compact device that uses electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a regular minimum rate. The doctor places it under the skin of the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms.

Treatments for tachycardia

There are several different treatments for tachycardia:

  • Vagal maneuvers: Using particular movements and exercises that include holding your breath and straining, dunking your face in ice water, or coughing might stop some types of arrhythmia that occur above the lower half of the heart.
  • Medications: Medications can be used to cure an arrhythmia that reduces the number of tachycardia episodes.
  • Cardioversion: The doctor implements an electric shock or medication to reset the heart to its regular rhythm.
  • Ablation therapy: The surgeon uses catheters to destroy limited sections of damaged tissue suspected of being the source of the arrhythmia.
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): The device is implanted by the surgeon near the left collarbone to monitor the heart rhythm. It helps in stimulating the heart to return to its normal speed.
  • Maze procedure: The surgeon makes a series of surgical incisions in the heart to block and guide the electrical impulses, helping the heartbeat efficiently.
  • Ventricular aneurysm surgery: Sometimes, an aneurysm, or bulge, is the cause of the arrhythmia. The surgeon may remove an aneurysm for a regular heartbeat.

Coronary bypass surgery: The surgeon grafts arteries or veins from elsewhere in the body onto the coronary arteries for circulation, bypassing the regions that have become narrow.

Treatments

There are various treatments for arrhythmia, depending on heart conditions. The different arrhythmias require particular treatments.

Treatments for Bradycardia

The doctor will treat any underlying condition that causes Bradycardia. If no underlying problem is discovered, then the doctor may advise implanting a pacemaker. The pacemaker is a compact device that uses electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a regular minimum rate. The doctor places it under the skin of the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms.

Treatments for tachycardia

There are several different treatments for tachycardia:

  • Vagal maneuvers: Using particular movements and exercises that include holding your breath and straining, dunking your face in ice water, or coughing might stop some types of arrhythmia that occur above the lower half of the heart.
  • Medications: Medications can be used to cure an arrhythmia that reduces the number of tachycardia episodes.
  • Cardioversion: The doctor implements an electric shock or medication to reset the heart to its regular rhythm.
  • Ablation therapy: The surgeon uses catheters to destroy limited sections of damaged tissue suspected of being the source of the arrhythmia.
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): The device is implanted by the surgeon near the left collarbone to monitor the heart rhythm. It helps in stimulating the heart to return to its normal speed.
  • Maze procedure: The surgeon makes a series of surgical incisions in the heart to block and guide the electrical impulses, helping the heartbeat efficiently.
  • Ventricular aneurysm surgery: Sometimes, an aneurysm, or bulge, is the cause of the arrhythmia. The surgeon may remove an aneurysm for a regular heartbeat.

Coronary bypass surgery: The surgeon grafts arteries or veins from elsewhere in the body onto the coronary arteries for circulation, bypassing the regions that have become narrow.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

Practice these lifestyle changes for a better heart:

  • Eat heart-healthy foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Maintain follow-up care.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

Practice these lifestyle changes for a better heart:

  • Eat heart-healthy foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Maintain follow-up care.

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