Untreated arrhythmia in some individuals may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, dementia, and heart failure.
It may lead to the inadequate blood supply to multiple organs because the heart may not function properly.
Patients may exhibit symptoms such as dizzy spells, shortness of breath, faintness, or serious heart problems. Recurrent episodes of arrhythmia may lead to multiorgan failure and even death.
Arrhythmia is a disturbed rhythm of heartbeat; in other words, it is an irregular heartbeat:
- When the heart beats faster than its natural rhythm of 60 to 100 beats per minute, it is called tachycardia.
- When the heart beats too slowly compared with the average rate, it is called bradycardia.
Other common symptoms of arrhythmia include:
What are common causes of and risk factors for arrhythmia?
Arrhythmia may occur due to various reasons ranging from genetic condition to medication side effects and an unhealthy lifestyle. The most common causes include:
- Extreme fright or stress
- Excessive exercise
- Hormonal changes
- Heart attack
- Scarring of the heart as a result of a previous heart attack
- Blocked blood vessels in the aortic region
- High blood pressure and an imbalance in the body’s blood sugar and salt levels
- Thyroid diseases
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- A high-fat diet
- Certain over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs or supplements
- Drug abuse
- High cholesterol
- Improper sleep patterns
The most common risk factors include:
How is arrhythmia usually treated?
Not all arrhythmias are dangerous or life-threatening. Sometimes, the heart is perfectly healthy, but its regular rhythm is interrupted by emotional stress or physical activity levels. Treatments may be considered if a patient is having recurrent episodes:
- Diagnose and treat the underlying causes: These include diagnosing and treating diabetes, hypertension, or heart diseases.
- Medications: Antiarrhythmic and anticoagulants drugs may be considered to stabilize the heart rhythm.
- Pacemaker: It is a small electronic device that electrically stimulates the heart to maintain an appropriate heart rhythm if the heart rhythm is too slow.
- Implantable cardiac defibrillator: This device monitors and corrects the heart rhythm if it is dangerous.
- Defibrillation: It resets the heart rhythm by sending mild electrical currents to the heart.
- Electrical cardioversion: A mild electrical shock restores a normal heart rhythm while the patient is under anesthesia.
- Catheter ablation: A catheter with an electrode on the end is inserted into the body and directed to the heart, where it gently burns and inactivates the areas responsible for abnormal signals in the atria.
- Surgery: It removes or inactivates the malfunctioning area(s) of the heart.
- Lifestyle changes: These include managing stress, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, eating healthy foods, being physically active, managing blood pressure and cholesterol, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
What can be the outlook of patients with arrhythmia?
Having arrhythmia can increase your risk of stroke, cardiac arrest, and heart attack. For this reason, patients should be sure to control any factors that may put them at further risk. The outlook for a patient who has arrhythmia depends on several factors including age, type, and severity of it. Even serious arrhythmia often has successful treatment. Most people who have an irregular heartbeat live normal, healthy lives if treated appropriately.
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