The irregular beating of the heart or cardiac arrhythmia is a major issue experienced by millions of people throughout the globe. Although many of these irregular heartbeats pose no danger to the lives, arrhythmias characterized by the weak and the damaged heart should be a concern!
What are cardiac arrhythmias?
Irregular heartbeats also known as cardiac arrhythmias or cardiac dysrhythmia is an abnormal heart condition, generally associated with the fluttering of heart or its beating either too fast or too slow. According to the type of pattern, arrhythmias can further be classified into:
- Fast heartbeats, known to be as tachycardia.
- Slow heartbeats, known to be bradycardia
- Irregular heartbeats also knew to be as fluttering or atrial fibrillation
- Early heartbeats that is a premature contraction
It should be noted that cardiac arrhythmias that are being experienced for a short period of time are not as serious, like those experienced for a longer period of time leading to sudden cardiac arrest and/or stroke.
Fast facts about Cardiac Arrhythmias
Majority of investigations and studies have revealed certain facts about abnormal heart rhythm, and can be noted as:
- Certain irregular heartbeats have no associated symptoms and can be harmless.
- Symptoms of cardiac arrhythmias should be noted as dizziness, breathlessness and/or sudden palpitations.
- The cause or the risk factors of arrhythmias can be variable and may be noted to be as chronic diabetes, chronic mental stress, and/or unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking etc.
What are the causes of arrhythmia
Cardiac arrhythmias are identified to be as the sudden interruption in the stimulation as well as the passage of electrical impulses that are associated with contraction of the heart. A healthy heart experienced beating of about 60 to 100 beats per minute, when at rest. The resting heart rate is below 72 for the person following a healthy lifestyle, such as an athlete.
Medical experts have pinpointed towards a number of factors, which can force the heart to work improperly, and can be noted to be as:
- Drug abuse
- Alcohol addiction
- Chronic diabetes
- Excessive consumption of caffeine
- Congestive heart diseases
- Long-term mental stress, trauma
- Chronic high blood pressure.
- Injury or scarring of the heart
- A heavy dosage of certain dietary supplements
- Certain medications consumed in the wrong way
- Structural changes in the heart
What are different types of cardiac arrhythmia?
There are several different forms of arrhythmia with different specifications, and can be noted as:
Atrial fibrillation: This is associated with the faster beating of the atrial chambers, and is quite common in most of the individuals, who are older than ’40s. In case of a normal individual, atrial chamber undergoes a single, strong contractions; but in case of a person suffering from cardiac arrhythmia, the atrial chamber quivers or in some cases, fibrillate at around 350 beats almost per minute. In severe cases, the irregular beatings can increase up to almost around 600.
Atrial flutter: While atrial fibrillations can always be characterized as strong, frequent quivers of the atrium; atrial flutter can be characterized as abnormal heart conduction, wherein any specific area of the atrium stops functioning properly, through the consistent pattern. Atrial flutter can be a serious condition, wherein a patient may typically experience massively abnormal heart rhythm, ranging from 250-450 beats per minute.
Supraventricular tachycardia: In this case, a regular and highly irregular heart beating is experienced by a person for a longer period of time. The condition may cause severe structural damage to the heart valves and should always be better to ignore.
Other than specified herewith, a cardiac arrhythmia can also be classified into ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation; depending upon the structural changes.
Long QT syndrome: It is particularly noted to be as an abnormal heart rhythm disorder due to rapid, uncoordinated beats. The condition can be associated with yet another life-threatening situation; wherein a person may go into a coma.
Diagnosis of cardiac arrhythmia
Once the patient complains about cardiac arrhythmia, a specialist tries to figure out a causative factor that are responsible for the trigger. A person may have to share details with his specialists, such as family history, medical history of the patient, lifestyle, diet, and allergic conditions. A person may have to undergo certain diagnostic tests, noted herewith; in order to confirm cardiac arrhythmia.
These tests can be noted as:
- Routine blood and urine tests
- Holtermeter testing to record heart beatings
- Chest X-ray
- Tilt-table test
- Heart catheterization
Treatments for cardiac arrhythmia
A person suffering from cardiac arrhythmia may have to undergo different types of treatment, depending upon the issue. The treatments can be categorized into:
Treating slow heartbeats (Bradycardia)
Slow heartbeats also knew to be as bradycardia can often be corrected with a pacemaker; however, there are as such no medications, which can bring considerable improvement.
Treatment of Tachycardia
There are multiple treatments available for tachycardia, or faster irregular heart beats, and can be one of the following.
- Vagal maneuvers: The maneuvers are available to slow down or stop the cardiac arrhythmia in supraventricular region. This can be achieved through holding your breath or dunking your face immediately in ice cold water. They are named after the vagus nerves that are being affected primarily.
- Medications: For certain other types of cardiac arrhythmia, like atrial fibrillations, atrial flutter etc. a specialist may prescribe certain medications to control abnormal heart rhythm. However, it should be noted that all anti-arrhythmic medications should be consumed under expert’s guidance. You may also be prescribed to consume certain blood-thinning medications to prevent dangerous clotting of blood.
- Cardioversion: A procedure identified to be as cardioversion can be suggested for extreme cases of atrial fibrillations or atrial flutter; wherein a shock is given to the heart through paddle or patches on the heart, a current can restore normal rhythming of the heart through electrical impulses.
- Catheter ablation: The procedure is achieved through the insertion of the catheter via blood vessels in the heart. The catheters are fitted with the electrodes that can be used to ablate a small spot of the heart tissue, through the application of heat, extreme cold or even radiofrequency energy. This is particularly done to block the pathway responsible for the cardiac arrhythmia.