An arrhythmia is a problem with the heartbeat rhythm. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.
Fast heartbeat is called tachycardia, while slow heartbeat is called bradycardia.
The heart has internal electrical system that controls the rhythm of the heart. This system sends an electrical signal, from the top to the bottom of the heart, to begin a new heartbeat 60 to 100 times a minute. Arrhythmia occurs when there is a problem in any part of sending the signal throughout the heart properly.
Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can be serious or life threatening. The seriousness comes from the not sufficiently pumping blood to the organs, which can be damaging.
Many arrhythmias show no signs or symptoms. If symptoms are present, those are:
- Palpitations (skipping a beat, or beating too hard or fast)
- A slow heartbeat
- An irregular heartbeat
- Feeling pauses between heartbeats
- Weakness, dizziness, and light-headedness
- Fainting or nearly fainting
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Arrhythmias are more common in people who have diseases or conditions that weaken the heart, such as:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Congenital heart defects
- Heart valve problems
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- Infections of the heart muscle
- Thyroid disease
- Imbalance of chemicals
- Cocaine or amphetamines use
The causes of an arrhythmia are:
- delayed or blocked electrical signals, which happens if the special nerve cells that produce electrical signals don't work properly or if the electrical signals don't travel normally through the heart
- additionally produces signals from the special nerve cells and disrupts the normal heartbeat
- smoking, heavy lacholo use, too much caffeine or nicotine, drug use
- strong stress
- heart diseases
- thyroid disease
- congenital heart defects
In some cases, the cause is unknown.
Serious arrhythmias can cause the following complications:
- heart failure
The preventive measures should be focused on healthy lifestyle (healthy food, healthy weight, physical activity, no smoking) and reduction of stress.