Arrhythmias

The heart is made up of four chambers

two upper chambers (atria)

two lower chambers (ventricles).

 

Heart rhythm is normally controlled by a natural pacemaker (sinus node) located in the right atrium. The sinus node produces electrical impulses that normally start each heartbeat. These impulses cause the atria muscles to contract and pump blood into the ventricles.

The electrical impulses then arrive at a cluster of cells called the atrioventricular (AV) node. The AV node slows down the electrical signal before sending it to the ventricles. This slight delay allows the ventricles to fill with blood. When electrical impulses reach the muscles of the ventricles, they contract, causing them to pump blood either to the lungs or to the rest of the body.

In a healthy heart, this process usually goes smoothly, resulting in a normal resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats a minute.

Symptoms

The Heart is Palpitating

If a person feels that their heart is palpitating, they might be experiencing an arrhythmia. Obviously, if they have been running hard to catch a train this feeling almost certainly relates to all the extra work their heart has just performed. Situations of high tension or excitement also commonly affect heartbeat. However, suppose they feel this sensation while relaxing at home watching TV. If they cannot connect the heart palpitations to any actions recently performed, it could be an arrhythmia. If they have a history of heart disease, they need to get an immediate check-up, but in all events, consulting a doctor is a wise move.

A fluttering Feeling

A look through the medical reports of arrhythmia patients shows that quite a few of them describe how they had a strange "fluttering" sensation in their necks or chest. Unless you are unfortunate enough to experience this symptom if is probably going to be hard to envisage what exactly they felt. The lesson to take away is that any strange sensations in these areas of the body are matters of interest to the doctor. They will certainly want to check if this might be an arrhythmia symptom or something it is safe to ignore.

Shortness of Breath

Whoever experiences breathing difficulties, or tightness around their chest, is naturally going to become concerned. If the shortness of breath is not connected with some energetic physical activity recently performed, it could be another common arrhythmia symptom. People also need to take into account that once they pass a certain age experiencing a shortage of breath becomes more common. Due to the heart's vital role, it is better to err on the side of caution and get a checkup, but remember it could be a natural phenomenon.

Becoming Dizzy

Dizzy spells or feelings of lightheadedness understandably cause real concern to whoever is experiencing them, However, people with low blood pressure problems often experience dizziness now and again. Arrhythmia reduces the blood flow to the brain and can produce dizziness similar to that felt by low blood pressure sufferers. Someone with a medical history of low blood pressure issues has no reason to imagine they could be suffering from an arrhythmia, but if they have not had such problems previously, they should get a checkup.

Fainting

This could easily happen after a spell of dizziness. It may occur because of the way arrhythmia affects t heartbeat. A change in heartbeat might cut the blood flow to the brain, and consequently, this person faints. Fainting has many other possible causes with many of them quite benign, but if arrhythmia causes this the potential consequences could be deadly. It is foolish to speculate what made someone faint since the earlier treatment commences, the more effective it is going to be. Therefore, whoever faints needs to get immediate medical assistance.

Heavy Sweating

Just as the average person might not be familiar with the term "arrhythmia," they also probably will not associate sweating heavily with a heart condition. It is so easy to assume this sweating comes from over-exertion or perhaps blame it on an overheated building. There is also no need to go to the opposite extreme and assume the sweating inevitably indicates a heart problem. The sensible way to proceed is to be aware there could be some issue that needs medical attention and seek medical attention if the sweating persists.

Chest Pain

In the popular imagination chest pains frequently get associated with heart attacks. Someone who worries excessively over these matters is likely to go to the doctor even when there is no need to do so. A heart attack is far from the only possible cause of chest pains. The cause could be a minor issue such as bad indigestion, or it could perhaps be an arrhythmia symptom. Sometimes arrhythmia sufferers describe a feeling in the chest that is more one of pressure than pain. Without turning yourself into a hypochondriac, it is always better to get these pains or pressures diagnosed rather than ignore them.

Weakness

A few of the common symptoms of arrhythmia are so general it is impossible for someone without medical knowledge to know that this is their health problem. Weakness is a classic case. Sometimes the cause might be an infection or virus. Or maybe this person is experiencing some emotional problems that also affect their physical health. Nobody can know that this is an arrhythmia symptom without a professional diagnosis.

Overcome by Anxiousness

Anxiety is another of those general feelings that could be connected to arrhythmia but also have numerous other causes. If there are no external factors likely to make the patient feel so anxious, the chance of an arrhythmia link increases. The only way to know for sure is via a thorough medical examination.

Fatigue

Many physical and emotional health problems have fatigue as one of their common symptoms. Businesspeople and others who lead very hectic lifestyles also easily develop fatigue. It takes a skilled doctor to work out that this patient's fatigue comes from arrhythmia rather than any of the other multiple causes. However, if the fatigue persists in interfering with their normal functioning, the investigation is worthwhile making.

When to see a doctor

 

Arrhythmias may cause you to feel that your heart is beating too fast or too slowly.

Seek urgent medical care if you suddenly or frequently experience any of these signs and symptoms at a time when you wouldn't expect to feel them, like shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting or near fainting, and chest pain or discomfort.

Some of arrhythmia types like ventricular fibrillation can be deadly. Without an effective heartbeat, blood pressure plummets, cutting off blood supply to your vital organs.

A person with ventricular fibrillation will collapse within seconds and soon won't be breathing or have a pulse.

 

If this occurs, follow these steps:

  • Call 911 or the emergency number in your area.

  • If there's no one nearby trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), provide hands-only CPR. That means uninterrupted chest compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 a minute until paramedics arrive. To do chest compressions, push hard and fast in the center of the chest. You don't need to do rescue breathing.

  • If you or someone nearby knows CPR, begin providing it if needed. CPR can help maintain blood flow to the organs until an electrical shock (defibrillation) can be given.

  • Find out if an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available nearby. These portable defibrillators, which can deliver an electric shock that may restart heartbeats, are available in an increasing number of places, such as in airplanes, police cars and shopping malls.

Causes

 

Some of Arrhythmias causes include:

  • A heart attack that's occurring right now

  • Scarring of heart tissue from a prior heart attack

  • Changes to your heart's structure, such as from cardiomyopathy

  • Blocked arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease)

  • High blood pressure

  • Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)

  • Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)

  • Diabetes

  • Sleep apnea

  • Stress or anxiety

 

 

Risk Factors

 

Some risk factors of arrhythmias include:

  • Coronary artery disease, other heart problems and previous heart surgery. Narrowed heart arteries, a heart attack, abnormal heart valves, prior heart surgery, heart failure, cardiomyopathy and other heart damage are risk factors for almost any kind of arrhythmia.

  • High blood pressure. This increases your risk of developing coronary artery disease. It may also cause the walls of your left ventricle to become stiff and thick, which can change how electrical impulses travel through your heart.

  • Congenital heart disease. Being born with a heart abnormality may affect your heart's rhythm.

  • Thyroid problems. Having an overactive or underactive thyroid gland can raise your risk of arrhythmias.

  • Diabetes. Your risk of developing coronary artery disease and high blood pressure greatly increases with uncontrolled diabetes.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea. This disorder, in which your breathing is interrupted during sleep, can increase your risk of bradycardia, atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias.

  • Electrolyte imbalance. Substances in your blood called electrolytes — such as potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium — help trigger and conduct the electrical impulses in your heart. Electrolyte levels that are too high or too low can affect your heart's electrical impulses and contribute to arrhythmia development.

Complications

 

Certain arrhythmias may increase your risk of developing other conditions such as:

  • Stroke. Heart arrhythmias are associated with an increased risk of blood clots. If a clot breaks loose, it can travel from your heart to your brain. There it might block blood flow, causing a stroke. If you have a heart arrhythmia, your risk of stroke is increased if you have an existing heart disease or are 65 or older.

​     Certain medications, such as blood thinners, can greatly lower your risk of stroke or damage to other organs caused by blood clots.       Your doctor will determine if a blood-thinning medication is appropriate for you, depending on your type of arrhythmia and your risk         of blood clots.

  • Heart failure. Heart failure can result if your heart is pumping ineffectively for a prolonged period due to a bradycardia or tachycardia, such as atrial fibrillation. Sometimes controlling the rate of an arrhythmia that's causing heart failure can improve your heart's function.

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Phone: (313) 832-8888

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