Arrhythmia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Arrhythmia is a problem in the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat that beats with an irregular rhythm (not rhythmic sinus). People with arrhythmias may experience heartbeats that are too fast, called tachyarrhythmias. While a heartbeat that is too slow is called bradyarrhythmia.

As reported by the National Heart Center page, the number of arrhythmia sufferers in 2011 was 2.1 million cases of arrhythmia, taken from several sources in Indonesia. The number of arrhythmia sufferers is predicted to increase along with increasing public awareness and the medical team towards arrhythmias.

Types of Arrhythmia

There are many types of heart rhythm disorders that are major and most common are premature atrial contractions, supraventricular arrhythmias, ventricular arrhythmias, and bradyarrhythmias. In addition, here are the various types of arrhythmias that you can recognize:

1. Premature Atrial Contractions

This is the initial extra pulse that starts in the upper chamber of the heart, called the atrium. Usually these contractions are harmless and usually do not require treatment.

2. Supraventricular

Rapid heartbeat usually with regular rhythm, starting from the lower chambers of the heart, or ventricles. Supraventricular suddenly occurs and suddenly ends.

3. Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach)

Rapid heart rhythm starts from the lower heart space. Because the heart beats too fast, the heart is not filled with adequate blood volume. This can be a serious heart disorder, especially in people with heart disease, and this may be related to other symptoms.

4. Bradyarrhythmia

Bradiarhythmia is a slow heart rate rhythm, which may be due to a disruption in the electrical system of the heart.

5. Premature Ventricular Contraction 

This is one of the most common types of heart rhythm disorders. Usually these contractions will “skip the heartbeat” which we all sometimes feel. This can be related to stress, too much caffeine or nicotine.

But sometimes, PVC can be caused by heart disease or electrolyte imbalance. If you often feel PVC, or symptoms related to this, contact your cardiologist immediately.

6. Atrial Fibrillation

Heart rhythm is very fast and irregular, this often causes the upper chambers of the heart to contract abnormally.

7. Atrial Flutter

Atrial flutter is usually more organized and organized than atrial fibrillation. This happens most often in heart disease and in the first week after heart surgery. This often turns into atrial fibrillation.

8. Additional Paths of Tachycardia

You can feel a fast heartbeat because there is an additional path between the upper and lower chambers of the heart. This is like a parable if there is a new additional road on the way home outside the usual route, the car will choose the path so that it moves faster. When it happens in the heart, it can cause a fast heart rhythm, called tachycardia, even very quickly.

10. Atrioventricular Nodal Reentrant Tachycardia

This is another type of rapid heartbeat (tachycardia). This is caused by an additional pathway through a part of the heart called the nodal AV. This can cause heart palpitations, patients to faint instantly or heart failure. In some cases, you can stop it just by breathing regularly and resting.

11. Ventricular Fibrillation

This happens when the lower heart chambers vibrate and cannot contract or pump blood to the body. This is a medical emergency that must be treated with CPR (cardiac resuscitation) and defibrillation as soon as possible.

12. Long QT Syndrome

This can cause potentially dangerous cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death. Doctors can treat arrhythmias with drugs or devices called defibrillators.

13. Sinus Node Dysfunction

This slow heart rhythm is caused by a problem with the heart sinus node. Some people with this type of arrhythmia need pacemakers.

14. Heart Block

There is a delay or a total block in the heart’s electrical impulses because it travels from the heart’s sinus node to the lower heart space. Irregular heartbeats are often slower. In serious cases, the patient needs a pacemaker.

Causes of Arrhythmia

Disorders of electrical impulses that cause the heart to contract can cause arrhythmias. People with a healthy heart usually have a heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute at rest. The fitter a person is, the lower the heart rate at rest. Arrhythmia is a condition that can be experienced by people with a healthy heart.

Here are a number of conditions that cause arrhythmias:

  • Heart disease
  • Electrolyte imbalance (such as sodium or potassium) in your blood
  • Changes in heart muscle
  • Injury from a heart attack
  • Healing after heart surgery
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Drinking excessive coffee
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)
  • Mental pressure
  • Heart scarring, often due to a heart attack
  • Smoke
  • Some food supplements
  • Some herbal treatments
  • Certain medications
  • Structural changes in the heart

Risk Factors for Arrhythmia

Here are a number of factors that might increase the risk of arrhythmias:

  • Older age
  • Congenital defects
  • Heart problems
  • Some prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medicines
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Electrolyte Imbalance
  • Too much caffeine

Symptoms of Arrhythmia

Cardiac arrhythmias can be asymptomatic. The doctor can find an irregular heartbeat during a physical examination by examining the heart through a stethoscope or through an electrocardiogram (ECG) device. Symptoms of arrhythmia that arise include:

  • Palpitations (feeling of heart beating fast)
  • Palpitations in the chest
  • Dizzy
  • Fainting suddenly (syncope)
  • Hard to breathe
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Mild headache or dizziness
  • Restless

When to see a doctor?

Arrhythmia is a condition that can cause the sufferer to feel premature heartbeat, or may feel the heart beating fast or beating too slowly. Other signs and symptoms may be related to the heart not pumping effectively due to a fast or slow heartbeat. Symptoms of arrhythmia include shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, dizziness, fainting or nearly fainting, and chest pain or discomfort. Seek medical attention immediately if you suddenly or often experience these signs and symptoms.

Arrhythmia Diagnosis

To diagnose irregular heart rhythms or find the cause of arrhythmias, doctors use tests that include:

1. Electrocardiogram (ECG or ECG)

This test records the electrical activity of the heart. You will use a patch of small electrodes on your chest, arms and legs. This test is painless and is quickly applied, which can be done at the doctor’s office.

2. Holter Monitor

This is a portable EKG that you will use for 1 to 2 days. You will use electrodes stuck to the skin. This hurts and you can do everything even if you wear electrodes.

3. Stress Test

There are various types of stress tests. The aim is to check how much heart stress can occur before having a problem with the heart’s rhythm or when it doesn’t get blood flow to the heart.

The most frequent type of stress test is that you will walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle to improve heart performance and then you will be checked for an ECG.

4. Echocardiogram

This cardiac arrhythmia test uses ultrasound to evaluate the heart muscle and heart valves.

5. Heart catheterization

Your doctor will insert a thin long catheter or tube into a vein in your arm or leg. This will guide it to your heart with the help of a special X-ray machine. It will then inject the dye through the catheter to help make X-ray videos of your heart valves, coronary arteries, and heart chambers.

6. Electrophysiological Studies

This cardiac arrhythmia test records the electrical activity and electrical pathways of the heart. This can help find out what causes heart rhythm problems and find the best treatment. During the test, the doctor will note an abnormal heart rhythm then maybe give a different medication to record the best medicine, or to see the best procedure or device that the patient needs.

7. Head-up Tilt Test

Doctors use this test to find out what caused the patient to pass out. Measure the difference in heart rate and blood pressure when the patient is standing and lying down. The patient will lie in bed in an oblique position at different angles when ECG and blood pressure are checked, as well as oxygen levels.

Treatment for Arrhythmia

Treatment for arrhythmias is dependent on whether the arrhythmia is fast or slow or heart block. The underlying causes of arrhythmias, such as heart failure, also need to be treated.

The following treatments are used for arrhythmias:

1. Medicine

For many types of tachycardia, arrhythmia sufferers may be prescribed medication to control heart rate or restore normal heart rhythm. It is very important to take antiarrhythmic drugs exactly as prescribed by the doctor to reduce the risk of complications.

If you experience atrial fibrillation, your doctor may prescribe blood thinners to help prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots.

2. Cardioversion

Treatment that uses electricity to shock the heart back to normal rhythm when anesthetized.

3. Catheter Ablation

Is a procedure performed to eliminate or stop damaged electrical lines from parts of the liver, which are prone to cardiac arrhythmias

4. Pacemakers

A small instrument attached to the chest under the influence of local anesthesia. This tool produces an electrical signal to help the heart beat normally, not too fast or slow.

5. Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

This tool is similar to a pacemaker that monitors the heart’s rhythm and surprises the heart back to normal rhythm whenever needed.

Prevention of Arrhythmia

To prevent arrhythmias, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of heart disease. The following healthy lifestyle to help nourish the heart and prevent arrhythmias:

  • Eat heart-healthy foods.
  • Stay physically active and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Reducing stress, because stress and intense anger can cause heart rhythm problems.
  • Use over-the-counter medicines with caution, because some colds and cough medicines contain stimulants that trigger fast heartbeats.

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