Chest | Cardiology | Arrhythmia or Abnormal Heart Rhythm (Disease)
Arrhythmia or Abnormal Heart Rhythm: Description
Arrhythmia also known as irregular heartbeat is any condition characterized by abnormal electrical activity in the heart. The heartbeat may be too fast or too slow, and may be regular or irregular.
There are two main groups: tachycardias, in which the rate is faster than normal, and bradycardias, in which the rate is slower.
The most common symptom of arrhythmia is an abnormal awareness of heartbeat, called palpitations that may be infrequent, frequent, or continuous. Arrhythmias may not cause any signs or symptoms.
Some people do have noticeable arrhythmia symptoms, which may include: a fluttering in your chest; tachycardia, bradycardia, chest pain; shortness of breath; lightheadedness; dizziness; fainting (syncope) or near fainting. Certain arrhythmias may increase your risk of developing conditions such as: stroke and heart failure.
Causes and Risk factors
Many things can lead to, or cause, an arrhythmia, including: scarring of heart tissue (such as from a heart attack); changes to your hearts structure, such as from cardiomyopathy; blocked arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease); high blood pressure; diabetes; overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism); smoking; drinking too much alcohol or caffeine; drug abuse; stress; medications; dietary supplements and herbal treatments; electrical shock.
Arrhythmia or Abnormal Heart Rhythm: Treatment and Diagnosis
Cardiac dysrhythmias are often first detected by simple but nonspecific means: auscultation of the heartbeat with a stethoscope, or feeling for peripheral pulses. Other investigation include: ECG, holter monitor, event monitor, echocardiogram, CT or MRI.
Treatment in bradycaridia include peacemaker. For fast heartbeats (tachycardias), treatments may include one or more of the following: medication, cardioversion, ablation therapy, vagal maneuvers. In some cases, surgery may be the recommended treatment for heart arrhythmias: maze procedure, ventricular aneurysm surgery, coronary bypass surgery