Arrhythmia is a heart rhythm problem where heartbeats fall irregularly, sometimes falling too slowly, or too early. It occurs when, for various reasons, electrical signals disrupt the coordination of heartbeats, causing a fluttering or a racing feeling in the heart. Not all episodes of arrhythmia are serious but, it is one of the potential warning signs of some life-threatening condition, such as stroke or cardiac arrest.
Sometimes, arrhythmia is an indicator of pre-existing damage to the heart or an ongoing condition. According to doctors at AMRI Hospitals, these heart disorders can easily be controlled and prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Here, we have talked about in details the facts of Arrhythmia, its causes, symptoms, and complications.
In most cases, arrhythmia is a silent heart condition that does not bring up noticeable symptoms. Irregular heartbeats are usually one of the first signs that need to be investigated and may lead to diagnosis of arrhythmia. If symptoms occur, they may include:
• High Palpitations
• Dizziness /Lightheaded feeling
• Shortness of breath
• Blurry Vision
• Pounding in the chest
• Discomfort in chest
• Sudden Fatigue
Certain diseases and conditions can lead to or cause an arrhythmia, which includes;
• Coronary Artery Disease
• Valve Disorders
• Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)
• Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid gland)
• Changes in the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
• Damage from a previous heart attack
• In-between healing process after heart surgery
• Sleep apnea
• Electrolyte imbalances in the blood
• Infection with COVID-19
• Other medical conditions
Arrhythmia is also witnessed as a result of;
• Regular heavy smoking
• Heavy consumption of alcohol or caffeine
• Drug abuse
• Stress & anxiety
• Allergic reactions to certain medications or supplements
• Genetic disorders
Diagnosis of Arrhythmia
Arrhythmias is not easy to diagnose, especially if the symptoms suffer ever so often making it difficult for doctors to recognize the condition. Your cardiologist may suggest physical examinations based on family history for arrhythmias, frequency or irregular heartbeat, and medical complications. These tests include blood tests, chest X-ray, EKG (electrocardiogram) to detect heart’s electrical activity, and lastly, an ECHO using sound waves to record a moving picture of your heart.
In some cases, it becomes necessary for the person to wear a heart monitor for a specific duration to detect intermittent arrhythmias. Also, electrophysiology is performed to evaluate the conduction system of the heart.
Types of Arrhythmia
Arrhythmia can be classified into two groups;
• Tachycardia- A condition referring to faster heartbeat, which records a resting heart rate greater than 100 beats per minute
• Bradycardia –In this condition, a person experiences a slower than usual heartbeat with a resting heart rate less than 60 beats a minute.
However, both tachycardia and bradycardia cannot be considered as serious condition until a qualified doctor declares it. Most of the time, strenuous activities or cardiovascular exercises cause the heart to speed up its function making oxygen-rich blood reach the tissue and develop a faster heartbeat. Similarly, when the body is experiencing deep relaxation and sound sleep, it is normal for a heart to beat slower than usual.
It is not necessary to experience active symptoms of arrhythmia; some cases are not even serious. If the condition persists, the patient is advised to consult cardiologists to prevent further complications leading to life-threatening situations, including stroke or heart failure.
When the heart starts to function inefficiently, it can cause blood to collect in pools or form clots. Sometimes the clots don’t dissolve and move towards the brain artery, resulting in a fatal blockage or stroke. A person suffering from a stroke needs immediate medical attention.
In some cases, a prolonged history of bradycardia or tachycardia can indicate a future risk of heart failure. The heart's insufficiency to pump enough blood to the brain or other organs causes debilitating damage to the body. However, early detection and treatment can help treat arrhythmia and live a normal life.
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