Symptoms of Arrhythmia

This article will highlight the symptoms of arrhythmia. An arrhythmia occurs when there is a problem with the regularity of the heartbeat. They are abnormal sounds that are produced as a result of incorrect coordination of the natural rhythm of the heart by the heart’s electrical impulses.

Many people at some point in their life have experienced arrhythmia but this arrhythmia may have been asymptomatic. Sometimes, the arrhythmia may be picked up earliest by a doctor while carrying out a general physical examination or during an ECG session.

SYMPTOMS OF ARRHYTHMIA

 The symptoms of arrhythmia vary and can be representative of either a harmful condition requiring urgent attention or a harmless situation. To be very certain of your safety, see a doctor if you have the following symptoms:

  • A feeling of an irregular heartbeat
  • An increased heartbeat
  • A decreased heartbeat
  • The feeling of a missed beat
  • A break between heartbeats

The symptoms of arrhythmia that are indicative of a harmful condition include:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting or light headedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Serious heart palpitations
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating

WHEN SHOULD YOU CALL YOUR DOCTOR?

When the symptoms of arrhythmia occur, they are mostly ignored. Ensure that you always see your doctor if you experience any symptoms of arrhythmia. Some symptoms of arrhythmia may be urgent enough to require immediate care and some others may be due to disease conditions that necessitate an immediate diagnosis.

ARRHYTHMIAS THAT NEED EMERGENCY CARE

There are some arrhythmias that are urgent enough and require immediate medical attention. They can be classified as medical emergencies. In the absence of treatment, these arrhythmias cause injury to the heart or brain and can even result in death. They include:

SUPRAVENTRICULAR ARRHYTHMIAS

They are those forms of arrhythmias that cause a rapid increase in the heart rate and so they require urgent care.

  • Atrial fibrillation: this is the commonest form of supraventricular tachycardia. It happens when the atrial chamber of the heart contracts rapidly in an irregular manner. It can result in a cerebrovascular accident or heart failure. Treatment of atrial fibrillation include the use of drugs, carrying out nonsurgical procedures or even surgery.
  • Atrial flutter: it is much similar to atrial fibrillation except that the cycle of its contraction is regular. This form of arrhythmia occurs rarely.
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome: it is a potentially fatal form of arrhythmia that results in premature contraction of the ventricles. It happens when there is an additional electrical pathway that alters the timing of the heartbeat.

VENTRICULAR ARRHYTHMIAS

These are arrhythmias that begin in the ventricles and necessitate immediate medical attention. They include the following:

  • Ventricular tachycardia: this form of arrhythmia presents with a rapid heart rate but it is transient, lasting only for a few seconds. If it occurs longer than a few seconds then it is even more dangerous and calls for urgent medical intervention.
  • Ventricular fibrillation: this is a severe form of arrhythmia that can cause heart attack and sudden death. It is a consequence of disorganized electrical activities in the heart. Because of this, the ventricular chambers of the heart do not pump blood as they normally would but they rather vibrate. If blood is not pumped to the body, the sudden death of the heart will occur. These impulses can be organized using a defibrillator. Some group of people may need to have a defibrillator implanted into them to facilitate long-term care.

BRADYARRHYTHMIAS

The constant feature of this form of arrhythmia is decreased heartbeat. For the body to function properly, blood flow must be continuous so a slow heartbeat can be a severe problem. If the brain does not get enough blood, unconsciousness may result. A slow heart rate is considered normal for those who are fit, for example in athletes. In another group of people, a slow heart rate may depict a disease condition such as a heart attack, an electrolyte imbalance or an under-functioning thyroid gland. 

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