Abnormal Heart Rhythms - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Abnormal heart rhythm, also known as arrhythmias, is a condition in which the heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregularly. Your heart works with the help of certain electrical impulses. Under normal circumstances, your heart beats around 72 beats per minute. If it starts to beat too fast or too slow, the condition can be known as arrhythmias. 


In this article, we are going to discuss the normal functioning of the heart, causes, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of arrhythmias. 


Understanding The Normal Function of The Heart


Your heart has four chambers, and two sides. The left side and the right side. The right side of the heart pumps blood to your lungs to receive oxygen, while the left side of your heart receives that blood from the lungs and pumps it to the whole body. 


The heart does all this work in two phases. First, the chambers of the heart relax to fill the blood known as diastole. Then, the heart contracts to eject the blood-filled in the chambers, the phase is known as systole.


Types of Arrhythmias


Arrhythmias can be classified as follows. 


Tachycardia


Under normal circumstances, your heart beats around 60 to 100 beats per minute when you are at rest. When it beats more than 100 beats per minute when you are at a resting position, this condition can be called tachycardia. It is further classified into three subtypes according to their origin. 


  • Supraventricular tachycardia

  • Ventricular tachycardia 

  • Sinus tachycardia


Atrial Fibrillation 


Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmias. In it, the heart rhythm gets disrupted in the upper chamber of the heart. It can make your heartbeat around 100 to 200 beats per minute, which is way more than normal. 


Atrial Flutter 


It is a type of arrhythmia that most commonly occurs in the right atrium- one of the upper chambers of the heart. 


Bradycardia


Bradycardia is a condition in which your heart rate is below 60 beats per minute. It usually occurs when signals that travel from the atria to the ventricle get disrupted. However, athletes may also have a heart rate below 60 beats per minute. But it occurs because of their excellent physical condition. 


Ventricular Fibrillation


It is a type of arrhythmia that occurs in ventricles because of which they are unable to pump blood to the body, especially the brain. It is a life-threatening condition that can lead to cardiac arrest. 


Premature Contractions


They are weak and feeble contractions due to which you may feel like the person's heart skips a beat when the pulse is taken from the chest or wrist. 


Symptoms of Arrhythmia


Arrhythmias may cause the following signs and symptoms. 


  • A very fast heartbeat (Tachycardia)

  • A slow heartbeat ( Bradycardia)

  • Dizziness or fainting 

  • Chest pain

  • Sweating 

  • Confusion


Causes 


Generally, there is not a single cause for arrhythmias, and they are hard to prevent. Some of the causes for it can be as follows. 


  • Have a family history of cardiac arrest, cardiac rhythm abnormalities, cardiac conduction abnormalities, cardiac myopathies, cardiac failure, and congenital heart diseases

  • Have had an episode of arrhythmias previously

  • Using CNS stimulants like amphetamines or illegal drugs like cocaine

  • Male gender

  • Electrolytes imbalance- that can occur due to medications used like corticosteroids, diuretics, or conditions like diarrhea or dehydration.

Chronic kidney disease

Obstructive sleep apnea

Risk Factors 


The risk factors for arrhythmias are as follows. 


  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Fat rich diet 

  • High blood pressure 

  • Uncontrolled diabetes

  • Smoking 

  • High blood cholesterol 

  • Obesity 

  • Sugar rich diet 

  • Family history of heart diseases, especially coronary artery disease


Conclusion 


Arrhythmias is a condition in which the heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregularly. It can occur due to various reasons like coronary artery disease, heart attack, cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), valvular heart disease, congenital heart disease, and electrical problems in the heart.


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