A heart arrhythmia is defined as any change in the sequence of the electrical impulses that keep the heart beating in rhythm.
These impulses may move too fast, too slowly or too erratically, which causes the heart to beat abnormally. When the heart doesn't beat normally, blood doesn't circulate through the body properly. This could interrupt the blood supply to essential organs, such as the lungs and brain, and cause them to become damaged or fail.
Examples of heart arrhythmias include:
There are several risk factors for developing an arrhythmia, which include:
- Your age. The risk of acquiring an arrhythmia increases as you age.
- Heart damage. Previous damage to the heart, such as from a heart attack, can make you prone to arrhythmia.
- Congenital conditions. Certain congenital abnormalities, such as being born with extra conduction pathways, can make you prone to arrhythmias.
- Alcohol, tobacco or drug use. Heavy drinking, smoking or recreational drug use can cause an arrhythmia.
You can reduce your risk factors by taking the following steps:
- Reduce your blood pressure
- Control your cholesterol
- Lose weight
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Avoid tobacco and secondhand smoke
- Exercise regularly
Most people feel a flutter in their chest or a fast heartbeat at some point in their lifetime. If the symptoms appear occasionally, there is no reason to panic.
The majority of incidents are harmless, but some arrhythmias can be life-threatening and will require treatment. See your physician for an examination to rule out serious problems if you experience any symptoms, which can include:
- Fast, pounding heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
In more severe cases, cardiac arrhythmias can lead to sudden collapse and even death.
Arrhythmias can be a challenge to diagnose, especially when the symptoms appear sporadically. Some tests you may be given to diagnose your condition include:
When you have been diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia, our caring team of cardiologists has state-of-the-art technology to treat your condition. Treatments we offer include: