Your heart relies on electrical impulses to keep it beating at a steady pace. But when this electrical system isn’t working properly, problems develop in the form of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Take a look at the 6 ways your heart gets out of rhythm…
➡ The defective impulses may cause the heart to beat too slowly or too fast, or to beat in a disorganized and chaotic manner. Some of these types of arrhythmias can be incredibly dangerous if not properly treated, while others may be annoying but are not life-threatening.
➡ Irregular heart rhythms such as Atrial Fibrillation or Atrial Flutter can threaten your heart health. Here are 6 ways your heart gets out of rhythm and leaves you standing on the dance floor…
The most common type of arrhythmia, Atrial Fibrillation, affects about 2.7 million people in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.
➡ Atrial Fibrillation occurs when the heart’s upper chambers (the atria) begin to beat rapidly and irregularly.
➡ The condition itself is not life-threatening, but it increases the risk for stroke 5X by allowing blood to pool and clot in the atria.
➡ The risk of Atrial fibrillation is lower before age 50 but then steadily increases with age.
➡ Blood thinners and medication to stabilize the heart rate and rhythm are often the treatment of choice.
➡ In some cases, a special procedure called an ablation (which purposely scars the defective part of the heart to prevent it from sending unwanted signals), may be recommended.
➡ Tachycardia occurs when your heart suddenly starts beating very fast. If it happens as a result of exercise, excitement, or fever, it’s usually not a cause for concern and doesn’t need treatment.
However, one type of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats) called paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)is more dangerous.
➡ It creates extra heartbeats because electrical signals that move from the heart’s upper chambers to its lower chambers tend to loop back around to the upper chambers.
➡ This condition can cause sudden cardiac arrest if it affects the heart’s lower chambers, but it’s curable through ablation.
➡ Tachycardia is most common in children and young people, and more common in women than men.
Ventricular Fibrillation is the most deadly type of arrhythmia.
➡ It occurs when the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) begin to quiver instead of pumping normally.
➡ Because these chambers handle most of the heavy work for the circulatory system, Ventricular Fibrillation causes blood flow to stop if the heart isn’t shocked quickly (with a defibrillator), and may lead to death.
➡ It’s more commonly seen in people with an underlying heart condition. Those at risk can be treated with medication or an implanted defibrillator that will shock the heart if it stops beating.
➡ Atrial Fibrillation increases the risk of stroke fivefold.
4. Premature Heart Beats
Most irregular heart rhythms involve either skipped beats or extra beats. These types of arrhythmias are harmless, and usually, don’t cause symptoms.
➡ People who do feel symptoms, however, report a “fluttering” sensation in the chest or a feeling that their heart has skipped a beat.
➡ Premature beats can occur in anyone, usually happen naturally, and don’t require treatment. But they also can happen as a result of heart disease, stress, overexercising, or too much caffeine or nicotine.
In those instances, you should talk to a cardiologist about your heart and any needed lifestyle changes.
Bradycardia is a type of arrhythmia that, for many people, is no big deal. It means your heart rate is slower than normal — fewer than 60 beats a minute for adults.
➡ Young people and others who are very physically fit may experience bradycardia because they’re in good shape, and for them, it isn’t dangerous and doesn’t cause symptoms.
➡ But people can also have bradycardia if they’ve had a heart attack or if an under-active thyroid gland or aging has slowed the heart. In these situations, taking medication or having a pacemaker implanted may be needed.
➡ Bradycardia can also be the result of a nutritional imbalance.
If this is the cause, your doctor may recommend a dietary supplement. In addition, the condition can be a side effect of medication, and in those cases, a doctor may adjust your prescription.
Long QT syndrome often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed as a seizure disorder, such as epilepsy.
➡ It is a hereditary disorder that usually affects children or young adults by slowing down the signal that causes the ventricles to contract.
➡ People with this condition may not develop symptoms for a long time, but the symptoms can be severe. They may include sudden fainting, seizures, and even sudden death.
➡ Another electrical signal problem, Atrial Flutter, happens when a single electrical wave circulates rapidly in the atrium (the top chambers), causing a very fast but steady heartbeat.
➡ Heart block is an abnormal heart rhythm where the heart beats too slowly (bradycardia ). In this condition, the electrical signals that tell the heart to contract are partially or totally blocked between the upper chambers (atria) and the lower chambers causing the heart to beat too slowly.
These conditions can put you at risk for cardiac arrest. Treatment may involve medication, ablation, or an implanted device to correct the misfiring, such as a pacemaker or defibrillator.
Recap and additional points:
➡ A fast (rapid) heart rate can cause sudden cardiac arrest, but it is treatable.
➡ If the irregular heart rhythm is not controlled it can lead to stroke and heart failure.
➡ A slower heart rate, which is usually not dangerous, can also be a side effect of a medication.