Arrhythmia refers to irregular heartbeat which can be too fast, too slow or an irregular rhythm. It occurs due to improper working of electrical impulses that coordinate heartbeats. Arrhythmias are of different types:
- Tachycardia: Fast heart rhythm where the heart beats greater than 100 times per minute.
- Bradycardia: Slow heart rhythm where the heart beats less than 60 times per minute.
- Supraventricular arrhythmias: Arrhythmias that begin in the upper chambers of the heart called “Atria”.
- Ventricular arrhythmias: Arrhythmias that begin in the lower chambers of the heart called “Ventricles”.
- Increased blood pressure
- Coronary artery disease
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Excessive caffeine intake
- Overuse of certain drugs
- Congenital heart diseases
- Heart attack
- Changes to heart’s structure
- Fast rate of heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Slow rate of heartbeat (bradycardia)
- Chest Pain
- Shortness of breath
- Profuse sweating
- Fainting or near fainting
In order to diagnose arrhythmia, a doctor may review the patient’s symptoms, medical history, conduct physical examination and may also perform tests specific to diagnose arrhythmias which may include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Holter monitor (portable ECG)
- Tilt table testing
- Electrophysiology study
- Stress test
- Implantable loop recorder
- Healthy diet
- Regular exercise
- Avoid smoking
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Keep control over blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Regular follow up.
Treatment for arrhythmias include anti-arrhythmic drugs, medical procedures, implantable devices and surgery.
- Anti-arrhythmic drugs, heart rate control drugs, anticoagulant or anti platelet therapy drugs as prescribed by the doctor.
- Medical procedures include
- Cardioversion which is done by giving electric shock to the heart through electrodes placed on one’s chest.
- Catheter ablation which is done using catheter tips that uses heat, extreme cold or radio frequency to destroy the tissue that causes incorrect electrical signals that leads to arrhythmias.
- Implantable devices include
- Pacemaker, implantable device placed under the skin near the collarbone that helps in controlling heart rhythms.
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD),an implantable device similar to a pacemaker.
- Surgical procedures include
- Maze Procedure, a procedure in which a series of surgical incisions are made in the heart tissues, that interferes with abnormal electrical impulses which causes arrhythmias.
- Coronary Bypass Surgery, a procedure in which blood is redirected around a section of completely or partially blocked arteries to improve blood flow to your heart muscles.
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