The phenomenon of irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia has become so common in today’s time that 1 out of every 5 people is suffering from it. According to a recent study, 2.2 million people are living with arrhythmia in the US alone. 1 in 4 adults over the age of 40 develops an irregular heartbeat. In India, too, the number of people suffering from irregular heartbeat is increasing. Today in this blog, we will have a quick go-through on the causes, symptoms and treatments of arrhythmias.
What is Arrhythmia?
Arrhythmia is a condition that refers to the failure of the heart to contract or beat. Internal electrical waves are the cause of the regular heartbeat which helps the heart to relax and contract. This internal electrical system controls the rhythm and rate of our heartbeat. When the internal electrical system goes awry, the heart may beat slowly, irregularly or very fast.
This irregularity of the heart’s rhythm is called arrhythmia. Only some people can feel the irregularity of their heart i.e. arrhythmia, while most people cannot feel the condition of arrhythmia. Heart rhythm irregularities (arrhythmias) can cause palpitations, which can cause long-term damage to the heart and can be a serious threat to your life.
Common causes of arrhythmias include age, heart attack, heart failure, thyroid disease, lung disease, and high blood pressure. On the other hand, if we talk about the most common symptoms of arrhythmia, then it includes dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty in breathing. In some cases, arrhythmia can even lead to immediate death (sudden cardiac death).
Treatment of arrhythmia is available. Fast, slow or irregular heartbeat can be controlled or eliminated if the arrhythmia is treated at the right time. The risk of arrhythmia can also be reduced to a great extent by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Arrhythmia can be of two types-
- Tachyarrhythmias (in this condition the heart beats faster than normal)
- Bradyarrhythmias (when the heart beats slower than normal)
What can be the causes of arrhythmia?
Arrhythmias often occur even in people who are physically fit or who have a healthy heart. Arrhythmia can be due to the following reasons:-
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Heart attack
- The healing process after heart surgery
- Excessive caffeine or alcohol intake
- Cardiomyopathy (changes in the structure or muscle of the heart)
- Valvular heart disease
- Imbalance of sodium or potassium in the blood ( electrolytes disorders)
- excessive drug use
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) or Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland)
Symptoms Of Arrhythmia
The symptoms of arrhythmia can range from mild to severe. Often the symptoms of arrhythmia are not visible, the doctor finds out whether you have an arrhythmia during the examination. Visible symptoms of arrhythmia include:
- Fluttering in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe chest pain
- Fainting or syncope
- Slow heartbeat
- Fast heartbeat
How is an arrhythmia diagnosed?
Most common test to diagnose arrhythmia is ECG. Other tests to identify arrhythmias include ambulatory cardiac monitoring (holter or loop recorders), chest X-ray, echocardiogram, and blood tests.
How is an arrhythmia treated?
If the arrhythmia is severe, there may be insufficient blood flow to vital organs of the body, such as the heart, kidneys or brain. When treatment of the arrhythmia becomes urgent, an electrical “shock” (defibrillation or cardioversion) may be given. Implantation of a temporary pacemaker is also used to interrupt arrhythmias by speeding up the heartbeat.
In the long-term treatment of arrhythmias, medications become a part of daily life. These drugs mainly include drugs that increase or decrease the heart rate and antiarrhythmic drugs.
Your heart needs to be fit for a healthy life. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is essential to reduce the risks of arrhythmia or any other heart disease. Increase your physical activity, eat a heart-healthy diet, keep your weight under control, and avoid things like smoking, alcohol, and excess caffeine. Arrhythmia sometimes becomes the cause of sudden death, so it is necessary to take all the heart-related information from your doctor and get the heart tested from time to time. Take the stress out of life.
You can contact us for better treatment.