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Heart Arrhythmia, is when the heart beat has rhythm problems caused by electrical impulses not working correctly. Heartbeats are coordinated by these pulses, and when they are not working properly, these pulses can cause your heart to beat too slow, too fast or irregularly. Heart arrhythmia can feel like a racing heart or fluttering. The effects can extend from being harmless to life threatening. based on the symptoms.
There are different types of Arrhythmias
An arrhythmia is not based only on the where it happens (ventricles or atria) but also the speed of the heart. A Tachycardia (tak-ih-KAHR-dee-uh) Means the resting heart rate is more than 100 beats or a Bradycardia (Brad-e-KAHR-dee-uh) means the heart has a resting rate of less than 60 beats a minute.
Having a tachycardia or bradycardia does not mean for certain you have heart disease. It is common for you to develop high heart rates during exercise to provide more oxygen rich blood to your body or lower heart rates during sleep and deep relaxation.
The symptoms of an Arrhythmia may be benign. In fact, you may not even have any symptoms, in fact a doctor my find a arrhythmia before you notice anything during a regular physical examination. Even if you noticeable signs or symptoms, it does not mean that you have a serious problem.
Symptoms of a heart arrhythmia symptoms:
- Fainting(syncope) or near fainting
- Racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
- Chest pain
- Fluttering within the chest
Arrhythmias may make you feel like you are having extra heart beats, from racing or going to slowly. There are other symptoms as your blood may not be pumping blood effectively due to the irregular heart beat. The signs such as headedness , dizziness , fainting or wheezing, are severe enough for you to go see urgent medical care. In cases where you suddenly or frequently experience these signs, its a good idea to get yourself examined by a doctor.
What causes Heart arrhythmia
There are many things, that can lead or cause an arrhythmia
- A heart attack can trigger it
- Scarring of the heart tissue from a previous heart attack
- Changes in heart structure from cardiomyopathy
- Blocked arteries to the heat or in the heart, such as coronary artery disease
- Drug Abuse
- Particular prescription medications taken
- Certain dietary supplements or herbal treatments
- High Blood pressure
- Overactive or under active thyroid gland from hyperthyroidism.
- Electrical SHock
- Air pollution
A normal heartbeat is when your four chambers, two upper chambers atria and the two lower ventricle chamber are functioning properly, to a controlled rhythm based on the on the bodies natural pacemaker or the sinus node located in the right atrium. The sinus node will create the electrical impulses that starts each normal heart beat.
From the sinus node, the electrical pulses will travel across the the upper chambers in the atria, to cause the muscles to contract and pump blood into the lower chamber ventricles. These electrical impulses will happen in a cluster of cells, known as the atrioventricular node or AV node, which is normally the only pathway for signals from the atria to the ventricles.
The AV node will slow down the electrical signal before sending it out to the ventricles, this will give the ventricles time to fill with blood. Once the electrical impulses reach the ventricles muscles, it will contract, which will pump blood to the longs or the rest of the body.
A hear rate that is healthy will allow blood to pump smoothly and a resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats a minute, athletes can commonly have a heart rate with less than 60 beats a minute because there heart pumps much more efficiently.
Tachycardias within the Atria can include:
Atria fibrillation – This is a rapid heart rate that is triggered by erratic electrical impulses in the atria or upper chambers of the heart. These signals are rapid, with weak contractions and are uncoordinated with the ventricles. The chaotic electrical signals will inundate the AV node, which will result in irregular and rapid rhythm of r the ventricles. Atrial fibrillation may be temporary, but may not end unless treated, an atrial fibrillation can lead to complications such as strokes.
Atrial Flutter, is similar to atrial fibrillation. In an atrial flutter the heart beats are more rhythmic and organized but may still lead to serious complications
Supra-ventricular tachycardia is a broad term that includes many forms of arrhythmia that comes from the above the ventricles or supra-ventricular in the AV node or atria
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a type of supra ventricular tachycardia, in which there is is an additional electrical pathway between the ventricles and the atria, which happens at birth. A person may not experience any symptoms until they are an adult. This condition may cause electrical signals to pass between the atria and ventricle without passing through the AV node, leading to short circuits and rapid heartbeats.
Tachycardias within the Ventricles
Ventricular Tachycardia is a rapid and regular heart rate that comes from abnormal electrical signals. The rapid heart rate prevents the ventricles from filling with blood and contracting to efficiently pump blood through the body. Ventricular tachycardia can lead to medical emergencies without treatment it may worsen to ventricular fibrillation.
Long QT Syndrome is a heart disorder that causes increased risk of chaotic and fast heartbeats. These rapid heartbeats are due to changes in the electrical system of the heart, which can lead to fainting, and some times the heart beat is so erratic it can cause sudden death. A person can be born with a genetic mutation that lead to long QT syndrome, also medications or congenital heart defects. may cause long QT syndrome
Ventricular fibrillation can be a deadly type of arrhythmia, because the heart beats rapid causing erratic electrical impulses, causing the pumping chambers of the heart or ventricles to quiver uselessly rather than pumping blood. Without the heart beating effectively, the body’s blood pressure will drop significantly, cutting off blood supply to the body’s organs. Most people who experience a ventricular fibrillation will have an underlying heart disease or experienced serious trauma, such as electrical shock or being struck by lighting.
A person that experiences a ventricular fibrillation will collapse with second will not breath or have a pulse within seconds. If this happens:
- Call 911 or your local emergency number.
- If there is no one trained
Bradycardia – a slow heart beat in which the heart rate is under 60 beats per minute. A low resting heart rate is not always a problem. A physically fit person may have an efficient heart that is capable of pumping blood effectively through the body in less than 60 beats per minute at rest. Also certain medications for the heart may lower your rate ,such blood pressure medications. If your heart rate is slow and is not pumping enough blood through the body, you may have a type of bradycardias such as:
Sick sinus syndrome, located in the sinus node, which setts the pace of the heart, if the impulses are not working the heart rate may slow down intermittently, sick sinus can be due to scarring near the sinus node, disrupting or blocking the travel of the electrical impulses.
Conduction block will block the heart’s electrical pathways near the AV node, a block can occur between the atria and ventricles. Based on the location of the block, the impulse may be slowed or blocked, certain cells in the AV node can be slower than usual affecting the heart beat. This may not cause ant symptoms at all, or you may experience skipped heart beats. This will cause possible dizziness, fatigue or fainting.
Premature heartbeats, feels like skipped beats, but are actually and extra beat, this may happen to person on occasion, but will seldom mean that there is a serious problem, although a premature beat can set in longer lasting arrhythmia, specifically with individuals with heart disease. Premature heartbeats, can be causes by stimulants such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and over the counter pseudo-ephedrine and asthma medications.