What is arrhythmia?
Arrhythmia refers to a disorder in the heart that alters the rhythm or rate at which the heart beats. It is basically how electricity works.
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This happens when the electrical impulses that regulate and direct heartbeats stop working properly. The heart stops beating because of this.
- Too fast (tachycardia).
- Too slow (bradycardia).
- Too early (premature contraction).
- Too erratically (fibrillation).
- Arrhythmia affects between 1.5 to 5 percent of the population.
- You may feel your heart racing or fluttering. You may not feel any different.
While arrhythmias are common and generally harmless, some can prove to be dangerous. An arrhythmia can cause blood to stop flowing properly and lead to serious health problems.
- Other vital organs
- Arrhythmias can be fatal if they aren’t treated.
Arrhythmia vs. dysrhythmia
Dysrhythmia can also be called arrhythmia. Although there is a slight medical difference between the two terms, they are often interchangeable to describe an irregular heartbeat.
Different types of arrhythmia
- Three factors are used to classify arrhythmias.
- Rate, whether it is too slow or fast
- Origin, in the ventricles and the atria
The electrical impulses that travel through the heart follow a precise path. These signals coordinate the activity in the heart muscle to ensure blood pumps in and out.
Arrhythmia can occur when the pathways or impulses are disrupted. They can begin in the sinus node (the lower chambers of the heart), the ventricles (the upper chambers) or the atria.
Arrhythmias can be classified as:
- bradycardia is a condition in which the heart beat is too slow.
- tachycardia is a condition in which the heart beat is too fast.
- Ventricular arrhythmia is a condition that begins in the ventricles.
- supraventricular arrhythmia is a condition that occurs above the ventricles.
- Premature heartbeat: In which the heart beats faster than normal.
- Bradycardia is when your heart beat slows down to less than 60 beats per hour.
- These conditions can cause a slow heart beat:
- Heart block
sick sinus syndrome
Sinus arrhythmia, one of many types of sick sinus syndromes, is one of several disorders that affect the sinus node. This condition can develop from congenital heart disease, sleep apnea, or it may be present at birth.
Tachycardia is when your heart rate increases to over 100 beats per hour.
Rapid heartbeats can cause problems with the blood pumping. The blood supply to your ventricles might not be sufficient to pump enough blood to the rest.
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This condition is usually not considered serious if it lasts for less than 30 minutes. If the condition lasts more than 30 minutes, or if you have chest pain, you might need to seek immediate medical attention.
- Ventricular arrhythmias begin in the ventricles (or the lower chambers) of the heart.
- There are many types of ventricular arrhythmias, including:
- ventricular tachycardia
- ventricular fibrillation
Premature ventricular beats (PVCs) are additional heartbeats that start in the ventricles.
Torsades de Pointes is a rare but severe form of ventricular tachycardia which can prove to be fatal.
If you have any other conditions, ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia may both need immediate treatment.
Ventricular Tachycardia (VT), is most common in people with heart disease. The rhythm originates in the bottom chamber of your heart and can cause a rapid heart beat of up to 100 beats per hour.
VT can be dangerous if it lasts more than a few seconds. It can also cause more severe ventricular arrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation.
Ventricular fibrillation is a sudden, rapid, irregular and chaotic heartbeat in the ventricle. These irregular electrical impulses can sometimes be triggered by a cardiac attack and cause the ventricles of your heart to quiver.
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This type of arrhythmia means that your heart rate drops rapidly and your ventricles are unable to pump blood. Without immediate treatment, sudden cardiac arrest can lead to death or irreversible damage.