Arrhythmia is when your heart rhythm is disrupted and you start beating fast or in an irregular pattern.
There are several arrhythmia types. Some are not dangerous. If they are not treated, they can lead to serious problems.
The article will look at the different types of arrhythmias and how they are typically treated.
The same electrical impulses that travel around your heart are what set the rhythm of your heart. The impulses begin at the top of your heart. They move through a network of fibers to the heart.
This electrical pattern allows your heart to pump blood and then relax and fill with blood in a controlled sequence. It keeps blood flowing.
Some heart rhythm changes are expected and even healthy, such as a faster heart rate during Exercise.. An arrhythmia, on the other hand, is any change to your heart’s electrical activity that causes an abnormal or unpredictable pattern of heartbeats.
When you have arrhythmia, you may notice a change in your heart rate, but other symptoms are more obvious. Some common symptoms of a heart rhythm disturbance include:
- There are palpitations.
- chest pain or a feeling of tightness in the chest
- dizziness or lightheadedness, or almost fainting
- Is it Exercise. or breathlessness?
The three main types of arrhythmias are:
“Arrhythmias are classified by where they originate or how they affect the heart. Let’s look at the three main types in more detail.”
A supraventricular arrhythmia originates in the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria. Some examples include:
One of the most common types of arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation (AFib) occurs when the atria quiver rather than contract and relax in time with the ventricles. It affects regular circulation and significantly increases the risk of blood clots forming within the atria.
In the case of atrial flutter, the atria beat much faster than the ventricles. But unlike AFib, which has an irregular heartbeat, atrial flutter usually presents with a steady but abnormally rapid rhythm.
However, just as AFib can cause blood clots to form in the heart and potentially cause a stroke, atrial flutter can also interfere with blood flow and allow clots to develop in the heart’s upper chambers.
Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)
Most types of arrhythmia are more common in older adults and people with other heart issues. However, PSVT can occur in children and people with no heart health issues.
PS VT is a rapid heart rate from a electrical impulse that travels from the top of the heart to the ventricles. During vigorous Exercise., arrhythmias can occur. They may last for a few seconds.
Premature atrial contractions (PACs)
“An extra heartbeat can be caused by your heart’s electrical system. Premature atrial contraction is when it starts in the upper chambers of your heart.”
Adults are common in this type of arrhythmia. It may feel like your heart is not beating. Treatment is usually not needed.
A ventricular arrhythmia originates in the heart’s lower chambers, called the ventricles. These are among the most serious heart rhythm disturbances. They include:
When a very fast heartbeat starts in the ventricles, the condition is known as ventricular tachycardia (V-tach).
Symptoms of V-tach, such as a racing heart and chest pain, are sometimes more obvious than symptoms of other types of arrhythmia. It’s also among the most dangerous arrhythmias, especially for people with heart disease.
Ventricular fibrillation refers to a condition in which the ventricles beat weakly and not in their usual steady manner.
Ventricular fibrillation is the most life threatening arrhythmia. The heart is not effectively beating and a person can go into cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is an often-fatal event in which the heart stops suddenly.
Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)
A PVC is not as serious as the two mentioned above. It is caused by the electrical system in your heart that causes an early or extra beat.
“Unless it happens very frequently, this type of arrhythmia doesn’t usually need treatment.”
Some types of arrhythmia can cause the heart to beat slower than normal. Two of the most common types of bradyarrhythmias are:
- Heart block: a blockage or interference with the electrical impulses moving toward the ventricles
- Sinus node dysfunction: a problem with the SA node
The electrical system of the heart is usually reliable enough to keep going for many years, but it is still vulnerable to a variety of threats.
These threats include other heart-related problems and various medical conditions that seem unrelated to the heart, such as COVID-19.
Triggers for an arrhythmia include:
- The disease of the coronary arteries.
- A heart attack.
- The heart surgery is done.
- high blood pressure.
- There is a disease called diabetes.
- “It’s obese.”
- electrolyte imbalances (e.g., sodium, potassium)
- Alcohol or other drugs are used for substance use.
It is natural to wonder if stress and anxiety can cause arrhythmia, because they are often associated with a heart flutter.
Studies have produced conflicting results. A
“Even if stress doesn’t cause an arrhythmia, it can cause more frequent episodes and worse symptoms. Alcohol use is associated with arrhythmias.”
A doctor will look at your medical history and symptoms to determine if you have arrhythmia. If a doctor suspects a heart rhythm problem, they may have you undergo a number of tests.
- Ambulatory monitor. An ambulatory arrhythmia monitor is a wearable device that measures and records your heart rate 24 hours a day.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG). An EKG is often the primary test that’s used to diagnose arrhythmia. It involves a healthcare professional placing electrodes on your chest, arms, and legs to record your heart’s electrical activity. An EKG gives a snapshot of your heart at that moment in time.
- Echocardiogram. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create images of your heart. This can help diagnose heart-related issues, such as valve disease, that may be causing an arrhythmia.
- Electrophysiologic study. With electrophysiologic study, a doctor guides a thin, flexible catheter from a blood vessel in your leg up to your heart to determine the heart’s electrical map.
If you have an arrhythmia, you are at risk of serious consequences, including a stroke, cardiac arrest, or heart failure. It may lead to a reduced quality of life due to fatigue.
If you experience arrhythmia, you should visit a doctor.
It is usually a treatable condition for rhythmias. A combination of treatments may be needed for your arrhythmia. Treatments include:
- anti-arrhythmic drugs to help stabilize your heart rate
- blood thinners to help prevent blood clot formation
- catheter ablation, which uses a catheter to deliver a high frequency charge to destroy the small section of heart tissue suspected of causing the arrhythmia
- A doctor can use electrical cardioversion to try to get the heart to work again.
- implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a small battery-powered device surgically placed in the chest and wired to the heart with electrical leads that can transmit electrical energy when an arrhythmia is detected
An arrhythmia may require a lifetime of care by a cardiologist. Discuss with your healthcare team what level of care is right for you and the type of arrhythmia you have.
Even if you have had a procedure to treat arrhythmia, you still need to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle.
- Regular Exercise.. It’s important to Exercise. regularly under the supervision of your doctor, cardiologist, or cardiac rehabilitation specialist.
- A heart-healthy diet. Follow an eating plan that supports your heart health, such as the Mediterranean diet.
- Not smoking. If you smoke, talk with your doctor about how to quit and manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- Stress management. A
2016 studysuggests that stress management may help reduce the frequency of ventricular and supraArrhythmias.. while also boosting quality of life. Consider adopting healthy stress management techniques such as:
When electrical changes within your heart cause it to beat abnormally, it’s known as an arrhythmia. Certain types of arrhythmias result from events such as a A heart attack. or infection. Others develop without obvious origins.
“A rapid heart rate that isn’t accompanied by stress or physical exertion is one type of arrhythmia. It is the same for a slow heart rate. A quivering heart rate or heartbeats that follow no set pattern is also arrhythmia.”
A doctor can use the electrical activity of your heart to diagnose arrhythmia and determine the best treatment option.
Adopting heart-healthy behaviors can help manage the condition and reduce the risk of future problems if your doctor confirms the diagnosis and prescribes a treatment plan.