The heart is constantly kept pumping blood throughout our body in a rhythmic manner but sometimes the rhythm of your heart can get uneven. Arrhythmia is the medical term for issues related to abnormal heart rhythm.
Why Is Your Heart Rhythm Important?
In some cases, a mild case of arrhythmia may be completely harmless and have no impact on the life and health of a person. But in some cases, arrhythmia can lead to severe cardiac problems and even turn fatal.
How To Identify Abnormal Heart Rhythm?
Arrhythmia can sometimes present with symptoms and sometimes it is silent without any visible manifestations. Sometimes arrhythmia feels like your heart is skipping a beat. Other times it may feel like your heart is beating too fast (Bradycardia). Some other times it may feel like your heartbeat is too slow (Tachycardia). In such a situation it is extremely important to immediately consult a doctor and get all the necessary tests done.
Some other symptoms which may not seem very significant, but can be signs of arrhythmia are:
- If you feel like your heart is suddenly flip-flopping in your chest, or if you like you start having palpitations suddenly, it can be a sign of cardiac arrhythmia
- If your heart starts pounding rapidly out of the blue or after the slightest exertion
- A feeling of chest tightness and shortness of breath can also be sign of cardiac problems
- If you get dizzy often it can be due to an irregular heart rhythm and consequent issues with blood circulation
- Fainting spells are also a common symptom in people suffering from bradycardia or tachycardia
- Extreme tiredness without proper reason can also point to weak heart health
- Sweating profusely without adequate exercise
- People suffering from arrhythmia often suffer from sudden spells of blurry vision
- In some cases, arrhythmia may seem like a feeling of deep anxiety
Note: Cardiac arrhythmias may sometimes not have any of these aforementioned symptoms. That is why it is important to get regular health check-ups to monitor your heart health.
Causes Of Arrhythmia
- In some cases, arrhythmias can effect absolutely healthy hearts as well
- In some people arrhythmias may be due to some congenital heart condition
- Some patients may start to suffer from cardiac arrhythmia when they develop some cardiovascular disease
- Sodium-Potassium imbalance in blood can also cause bradycardia or tachycardia
- Injuries or malfunctions in different parts of the heart like a stiff heart muscle can affect blood flow to the heart and cause arrhythmia
- Some people suffer from arrhythmia because of issues with the electrical impulses that travel to their heart and back from the nervous system
- Patients may even develop irregular heart rhythm as the side effect of different drugs
- Over-indulgence in alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs and caffeine can cause arrhythmia
- Over-exercising can also affect the normal heart rhythm
- Sudden intense emotions like surprise or stress can also cause the heart rhythm to become irregular
People with certain co-morbidities like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, sleep apnea, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are at very high risk of developing arrhythmias. People with a family history of heart diseases and arrhythmias are also more prone to developing an irregular heartbeat. Seniors are at a higher risk of developing heart arrhythmias.
How To Treat Arrhythmia?
There can be different types of arrhythmias, each with its own sets of symptoms and health consequences. The only way to diagnose arrhythmia is through different diagnostic tests. Some common tests for monitoring irregularities with the heart rhythm are EKG, Tilt Table test, Holter monitor test, stress test, Echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization, and many more.
Once an arrhythmia has been diagnosed, doctors can suggest medications depending on the severity of the problem. In case doctors identify some serious underlying condition behind the arrhythmia doctors may suggest implanting a pacemaker or an implantable cardiovascular defibrillator. But even these may not be enough, and doctors may suggest heart surgery or some other invasive procedures.
Heart arrhythmia symptoms are often ignored as minor problems. But they can lead to stroke, cardiac arrest, heart failure, and cognitive issues like dementia. It is important to be vigilant and consult a doctor as soon as any symptoms of arrhythmia are noticed. Even without any apparent symptoms, it is still important to go for regular medical check-ups, especially for people who are high-risk because of their co-morbidities, or lifestyle choices, or family history.
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