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Everything You Want to Know About Arrhythmia

Home > Blog > Everything You Want to Know About Arrhythmia

Everything You Want to Know About Arrhythmia

Friday, 24 May, 2024

Let's talk about our hearts - those trusty conductors of life's symphony. Every now and then, they hit a bump in the road called arrhythmia. Most of the time, arrhythmias are no biggie. But in some cases, they can be serious. If you ever feel something funky with your heartbeat, don't wait around - get help ASAP. Here at Kauvery Hospital, we've got the skills and tools to tackle arrhythmias head-on, guiding you towards a healthier heart.

What is Arrhythmia?

Arrhythmia refers to irregular heartbeats, which can be too fast, too slow, or erratic. It may range from harmless to serious, requiring medical attention if unusual heart rhythms occur.

What Triggers Arrhythmia?

Arrhythmias can be ignited by a variety of factors, from lifestyle choices to underlying health conditions like

  • Stress
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Excessive caffeine intake
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Thyroid issues

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Arrhythmia?

In many cases, you may not experience any noticeable symptoms at all. Your doctor may detect your arrhythmia during an examination. However, some evident symptoms include:

  • Palpitations
  • Chest pounding
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Tightness or discomfort in the chest
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Brain Stroke

What Causes Arrhythmias?

The primary factors that can lead to arrhythmias include:

  • Heart diseases
  • The recovery phase following any heart surgery
  • Fever or infection
  • Electrolyte imbalances in the blood
  • Heart attack
  • Use of specific medications
  • Issues with the heart's electrical signals
  • Strong emotions, shock, or stress
  • Consumption of tobacco, alcohol, excessive exercise, or caffeine

Who Is Prone to Arrhythmia?

Arrhythmias are relatively common in older adults. Atrial fibrillation, a type of arrhythmia, affects millions of people across the country.

Older adults are at a heightened risk of heart disease and other health issues that can lead to arrhythmias. Moreover, they are often more sensitive to medications, some of which may result in arrhythmia.

Certain types of arrhythmia are more frequently observed in young adults and children.

Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), such as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, is often diagnosed in young individuals. This type of arrhythmia is characterized by a rapid heart rate that begins and ends abruptly.

Diagnosis for arrythmia

To diagnose a heart arrhythmia, a healthcare provider will conduct a thorough examination, inquire about medical history and symptoms.

Diagnostic tests for heart arrhythmia may include:

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG):

This quick test measures the heart's electrical activity to determine its rhythm and speed. Sensors are placed on the chest and sometimes on the arms or legs, connected to a computer that displays or prints the results.

Holter monitor:

A portable ECG device worn for a day or longer to record heart activity during daily activities.

Event recorder: Another portable ECG device worn for up to 30 days or until symptoms occur. Patients typically press a button when symptoms arise.

Echocardiogram:

Using sound waves, this test produces images of the heart to assess its structure, valves, and function, as well as blood flow.

Implantable loop recorder:

For infrequent symptoms, a device may be implanted under the skin to continuously record heart electrical activity and detect irregular rhythms.

What Are the Key Risk Factors of Arrhythmia?

Arrhythmias are commonly observed in individuals with conditions or diseases that tend to weaken the heart, including:

Heart attack

Cardiomyopathy or heart failure, which weakens the heart and alters how electrical signals move within it.

Narrowed or leaking heart valves, leading to excessive strain on the heart and potentially heart failure.

Congenital heart defects

Congenital heart defects can contribute to heart issues and increase the risk of arrhythmias. Additionally, certain other conditions may elevate your risk of developing arrhythmia, including high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, infections that could damage the sac surrounding the heart or the heart muscles, and an underactive or overactive thyroid gland.

Arrhythmia treatment

Managing arrhythmia involves a multifaceted approach.: Care to know how you can tackle your odd heartbeat? Here they are:

Medications:

Medications such as Antiarrhythmics are prescribed to stabilize irregular heart rhythms and treat underlying conditions like thyroid disorders or heart disease.

Medical Procedures:

Pacemakers regulate heart rhythm, defibrillation administers electrical shocks for certain arrhythmias, and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs) manage life-threatening arrhythmias by delivering electric shocks when necessary.

Catheter Ablation:

A procedure targeting abnormal heart tissue with energy delivered through a thin tube inserted into blood vessels, often used if medications are ineffective.

Surgery:

Surgical interventions like maze surgery or coronary artery bypass grafting may be necessary for certain types of arrhythmias, particularly if complications like stroke or heart failure are imminent.

Treatment may also be recommended if your arrhythmia puts you at a higher risk for complications such as stroke, heart failure, or sudden cardiac arrest.

Long-Term Outlook and Quality of Life:

Living with arrhythmia doesn't mean you can't enjoy life. Just stick to your treatment plan and keep an eye on things. Remember, arrhythmias are often harmless, but if you need treatment, talk to your doctor. Take care of yourself and listen to your body.

Key Takeaways

  • Arrhythmia is a condition where the heart beats irregularly, either too fast, too slow, or erratically. It can range from harmless to potentially serious, necessitating medical evaluation if unusual heartbeats are felt.
  • Cardiac arrhythmia prevention involves identifying and managing various factors that can trigger arrhythmia, including stress, heart disease, high blood pressure, excessive caffeine or alcohol intake, thyroid issues, and certain medications.
  • Various factors can trigger arrhythmia, including stress, heart disease, high blood pressure, excessive caffeine or alcohol intake, thyroid issues, and certain medications. Identifying and managing these triggers can help in controlling the condition.
  • Symptoms of arrhythmia can include palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, and fainting. However, many people may not experience noticeable symptoms, and arrhythmias are often detected during routine medical examinations.
  • Older adults are at higher risk due to increased susceptibility to heart disease and medication sensitivities. Certain arrhythmias, like Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT), are more common in younger individuals. Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and congenital heart defects also elevate the risk.
  • Arrhythmias can be managed through lifestyle changes, medications, medical procedures like pacemaker installation or catheter ablation, and sometimes surgery. Effective management and adherence to treatment plans can significantly improve the quality of life for those with arrhythmia.

Author by Dr Ganesh

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