Medically the evaluation by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA — composed by Tim Newman top top February 28, 2020

An arrhythmia defines an rarely often rare heartbeat. Through this condition, a person’s heart may beat as well quickly, as well slowly, too early, or through an rarely often rare rhythm.

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Arrhythmias occur when the electric signals the coordinate heartbeats room not functioning correctly. An irregular heartbeat may feel favor a racing heart or fluttering.

Many heart arrhythmias space harmless. However, if lock are very irregular or an outcome from a weak or damaged heart, arrhythmias can cause severe and potentially deadly symptoms and also complications.

In this article, we specify arrhythmia, and also its causes and symptoms. We also explain the possible treatments and also different types.


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Share on PinterestA person with arrhythmia may experience chest pain.
Cardiac arrhythmia refers to a group of conditions that reason the love to to win irregular, as well slowly, or too quickly.

There are number of categories of arrhythmia, including:

bradycardia, or a slow-moving heartbeattachycardia, or a quick heartbeatirregular heartbeat, likewise known as a flutter or fibrillationearly heartbeat, or a premature contraction

Most arrhythmias are not severe and also do not reason complications. Some, however, have the right to increase the danger of punch or cardiac arrest.

Some human being may hear medical professionals use words “dysrhythmia” as soon as referring to their irregular heartbeat. The native arrhythmia and also dysrhythmia mean the same, however the word arrhythmia is much more prevalent.

What is a normal heartbeat?

Doctors identify a healthy heartbeat by counting the variety of times the love beats every minute (bpm) during rest. This is recognized as the relaxing heart rate.

The range for a healthy and balanced resting heart price varies in between individuals, but the American love Association (AHA) suggests that the is usually between 60 and 100 bpm.

The fitter a human being is, the lower their relaxing heart rate becomes. Olympic athletes, for example, will certainly usually have a relaxing heart rate of much less than 60 bpm, since their understanding are highly efficient.

The heart must beat v a consistent rhythm, consists of double “ba-bum” beats with also spaces in in between each.

One of these beats is the love contracting to carry out oxygen come blood that has already circulated, and the other involves the love pushing oxygenated blood around the body.

A person can measure their heart rate using your pulse. This is a suggest at i m sorry they deserve to feel the heartbeat with the skin. The finest locations top top the body for this are:

the wriststhe insides the the elbowsthe side of the neckthe height of the foot

To learn much more about just how the heart works here.


Types

There room several varieties of arrhythmia, as described here:

Atrial fibrillation

This is the irregular beating the the atrial chambers, and nearly always requires tachycardia. Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is common and mainly creates in adults over 65 year of age.

Instead of developing a single, strong contraction, the room fibrillates, or quivers, often developing a rapid heartbeat.

Read much more on A-fib here.

Atrial flutter

While fibrillation causes many random and also different quivers in the atrium, atrial flutter is normally from one area in the atrium that is no conducting properly. This produces a consistent pattern in the abnormal love conduction.

Some people may suffer both flutter and also fibrillation.

Atrial flutter have the right to be a major condition and usually leader to fibrillation there is no treatment.

Supraventricular tachycardia

The condition known together supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) describes a rapid yet rhythmically consistent heartbeat. An individual can experience a explode of sped up heartbeats that can last from a few seconds to a few hours.

Doctors divide atrial fibrillation and flutter under SVTs.

Ventricular tachycardia

This condition refers to abnormal electrical impulses that begin in the ventricles and also cause an abnormally rapid heartbeat. This often happens if the heart has actually a scar native a previous love attack.

Ventricular fibrillation

This is an irregular love rhythm consists of rapid, uncoordinated, and fluttering contractions of the ventricles. The ventricles perform not pump blood yet quiver instead.

Ventricular fibrillation can be life threatening and usually has links to heart disease. A heart attack often triggers it.

Find out much more about ventricular fibrillation here.

Long QT syndrome

This syndrome refers to a love rhythm disorder that sometimes causes rapid, uncoordinated heartbeats. This can result in fainting, which may be life threatening.

It can also occur because of genetic susceptibility or taking specific medications.


Any discontinuity to the electric impulses that stimulate heart contractions may result in arrhythmia.

Several determinants can reason the love to work-related incorrectly, including:

alcohol abusediabetessubstance use disorderdrinking too lot coffeeheart disease, such as congestive heart failurehigh blood pressurehyperthyroidism, or one overactive thyroid glandstressscarring the the heart, often due to a love attacksmokingcertain dietary and herbal supplementssome medicationsstructural changes in the heart

A human being with an excellent heart wellness will hardly ever before experience irreversible arrhythmia uneven they have an external trigger, such together a substance usage disorder or an electrical shock.

However, an basic heart difficulty can typical that electric impulses perform not travel with the love correctly. This rises the risk of arrhythmia.


Arrhythmia might not cause noticeable symptoms. However, a doctor may detect an arrhythmia during a regime examination or after ~ requesting an electrocardiogram (EKG).

Even if an separation, personal, instance notices symptoms, the does no necessarily typical that they have a severe arrhythmia.

Some human being with life threatening arrhythmias may have no symptoms, while others through symptoms might not have a major arrhythmia.

Symptoms count on the form of arrhythmia, as follows:

Symptoms of tachycardia

Symptoms that a fast heartbeat include:

breathlessness dizzinessfainting or nearly faintingfluttering in the chestchest painlightheadednesssudden weakness

Symptoms that bradycardia

Bradycardia can cause the complying with symptoms:

angina, or chest paintrouble concentratingconfusionfinding exercise more challenging than usualdizzinesstirednesslightheadednesspalpitationsshortness of breathfainting or virtually faintingprofuse sweating

Symptoms that A-fib

When A-fib symptoms occur, they frequently have a rapid onset and may involve:

anginabreathlessnessdizzinesspalpitationsfainting or virtually faintingweakness

Some human being may not experience energetic symptoms because of arrhythmia. However, treatment is still vital for staying clear of further complications, which may include stroke and heart failure.

Stroke: Atrial fibrillation way that the love is not pumping effectively. This problem can reason blood to collect in pools and type clots.

If a gerean dislodges, it might travel come a mind artery, causing a perhaps fatal blockage, or stroke. Stroke can cause mind damage and also require emergency treatment.

Learn an ext about stroke and how to stop one occurring.

Heart failure: lengthy tachycardia or bradycardia can result in love failure. Once the love is failing, it can not pump enough blood to the body and also its organs. Treatment can usually assist improve this.


Treatment because that arrhythmia is only necessary if the condition is enhancing the hazard of more severe arrhythmia or a complication, or if the symptoms room severe.

The various arrhythmias require various treatments.

Treatments for bradycardia

If bradycardia occurs due to an underlying condition, a doctor will need to treat that condition first. If they discover no underlying problem, the doctor may advise implanting a pacemaker.

A pacemaker is a small machine that a doctor places under the skin the the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal love rhythms. Pacemakers use electric pulses to prompt the love to beat in ~ a constant minimum rate.

Read more on pacemakers here.

Treatments because that tachycardia

There room several different treatments for tachycardia:

Vagal maneuvers: certain movements and exercises that a human being can lug out in ~ home could stop some species of arrhythmia that start over the lower half of the heart.

Medications: These will not cure one arrhythmia yet are usually effective in to reduce the number of tachycardia episodes. Part medications likewise promote electrical conduction through the heart.

Cardioversion: The doctor might use an electric shock or medicine to reset the heart to its consistent rhythm.

Ablation therapy: A operated doctor inserts one or much more catheters into the inner heart. They location the catheters in locations of the heart that they suspect may be the resource of the arrhythmia. The surgeon will then usage them to destroy tiny sections of damaged tissue, which often corrects the arrhythmia.

Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): A operated doctor implants this close to the left collarbone. The maker then monitors the heart rhythm. If that detects an unusually fast rate, it stimulates the love to go back to its normal speed.

Maze procedure: during the maze procedure, a surgeon renders a series of surgical incisions in the heart. These then heal right into scars and kind blocks that guide the electrical impulses, help the heart to beat efficiently.

Ventricular aneurysm surgery: Sometimes, an aneurysm, or bulge, in a blood vessel the leads to the love can reason arrhythmia. If various other treatments room not effective, a surgeon may need to remove the aneurysm.

Coronary bypass surgery: A operated doctor grafts arteries or veins from in other places in the human body on come the coronary arteries. This help the circulation bypass any kind of regions the have end up being narrow and improve the blood it is provided to the heart muscle.


To diagnose one arrhythmia, a doctor has to identify the unexplained heartbeat and try to find its resource or trigger. This will involve a comprehensive interview, which may touch on clinical history, family members history, diet, and also lifestyle.

A doctor may request the adhering to tests to assistance an arrhythmia diagnosis:

blood and urineEKGA Holter monitor, a wearable device to document the heart because that 1–2 daysechocardiogramchest X-raya tilt-table check to help identify if sudden decreases in blood push or heart price are the causeelectrophysiologic testingheart catheterization

The adhering to may rise a person’s hazard of arrhythmia:

being 65 years of period or olderinherited hereditary anomaliesunderlying heart problemshypothyroidism or hyperthyroidismsome prescription medications and also over-the-counter drugshypertensionobesityuncontrolled diabetesobstructive sleep apneaelectrolyte imbalancesheavy and regular alcohol consumptiontoo lot caffeineillegal drugs

While some of these room unavoidable, a person can take a couple of steps to reduce their threat of arrhythmia.

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These actions incorporate staying active, preventing the constant use that alcohol or illegal drugs, and also limiting caffeine intake.

The AHA recommend at the very least 150 minute of moderately intense exercise every week.