Cardiac Arrhythmia Symptoms and Treatment

Cardiac arrhythmia, also known as an irregular heartbeat, is a deviation from the normal rate or rhythm of the heart. Heartbeats are controlled by electrical impulses that cause different parts of the heart to contract or relax in a finely coordinated movement that pumps blood throughout the body at a consistent rate per minute. Of the many types of arrhythmia, some quiescent and some severe, atrial fibrillation is the most common, affecting approximately 33.5 million people worldwide.

According to the American Heart Association, a normal heart range should be within 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm), depending on the overall age and fitness of the individual. While there are many different types of arrhythmias, they can be broken into five different categories:

  • Tachycardia – more than 100bpm
  • Bradycardia – less than 60bpm
  • Supraventricular arrhythmias – including premature atrial contractions, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, etc.
  • Ventricular arrhythmias – ventricular fibrillation and long QT, etc.
  • Bradyarrhythmias – caused by disease in the heart’s conduction system.

Symptoms of Cardiac Arrhythmia:

Symptoms associated with arrhythmia also vary widely – some people do not experience symptoms, while others may be aware of their heart racing / “skipping a beat”, or even suffer from fatigue, lightheadedness, fainting, or chest pain. Arrhythmia can increase the incidence of stroke or heart failure, and in the most severe cases result in death. Fortunately for the millions of sufferers worldwide, most arrhythmias can be effectively treated with lifestyle changes, medication, installation of an implantable device, or surgery. Regardless of the severity of your symptoms, if you feel that an abnormality might exist, it is recommended that you see your doctor.

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