Your heartbeat may change its speed depending upon if you went for a run or if you meditate but that’s how the human body functions.
But what happens if you have faster or slower or irregular heartbeats on a daily basis? It may be an indication of some abnormality, in the terminology of cardiovascular diseases, there is a name for this condition. It is known as arrhythmia.
Arrhythmia affects the rate at which the heart beats, meaning the electrical impulses regulating the heart rate stop functioning properly.
It leads to the heartbeat becoming too slow (bradycardia), too erratically (fibrillation), too fast (tachycardia), and too early (premature contraction). It is a very common disease in India with more than 10 million cases per year.
Arrhythmia is usually harmless but some can cause severe problems. Its interference with the blood flow in the body can damage the lungs, brain, heart, and other vital organs.
What are the symptoms of arrhythmia?
The common symptoms of arrhythmia include
- Slow heartbeat or irregular heartbeat
- Fast heartbeat
- A fluttering feeling in your chest
- Feeling as if your heart skipped a beat
Some other severe symptoms are inclusive of
- Breathing difficulty
- Tightness in the chest or chest pain
- Irregular pulse patterns
- Heart palpitations
- Low blood pressure
Urgent medical attention is needed if one experiences these symptoms. Sometimes arrhythmia may be asymptomatic or the heart may beat too fast, slow, or irregularly.
What are the causes of arrhythmia?
Arrhythmia can have multiple causes including genetic, medical, emotional, physical, and some might even be unknown.
Antibiotics that treat high blood pressure, depression, cold, and allergies can trigger arrhythmia in some people. Other medical conditions that can be the source of arrhythmia are:
- Thyroid disorder
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- Electrolyte imbalance
In some cases, lifestyle factors can also be the source of arrhythmia such as smoking, drinking, strong emotions such as anger and anxiety, exercising, and coughing.
What are the risk factors associated with arrhythmia?
Risk factors sometimes do increase the risk of developing arrhythmia; however, this is not necessary and may not be the case with every individual with these risk factors. Below are the conditions that may increase the risk of arrhythmia.
- Heart failure
- Sleep apnea
- Kidney disease
- Eating disorders leading to electrolyte imbalance
- Coronary artery disease
- Underactive or overactive thyroid gland
- Heart valve disease
- Chronic lung disease
Some of the common risk factors include
- Family history of arrhythmia
- Drugs such as cocaine
- Air pollution
- Certain medications
- Old age
What are the treatments for arrhythmia?
If you have arrhythmia, the doctor may first do the evaluation, however specific treatments are not required. Although it is vital to maintain cholesterol, blood pressure, healthy diet, and exercise regularly.
If you have fast heart rate then your doctor may suggest coughing, gagging, soaking your face in cold water, and holding your breath. This reduces the risk of certain complications. The doctor may suggest medications or surgery for some serious condition.
How can arrhythmia be prevented?
Arrhythmia happens due to many causes but if taken prevention these causes can be prevented and the triggers can be reduced. Some of the arrhythmia triggers can be prevented and these include stress, anxiety, certain drugs, alcohol, certain medications, smoking, and caffeine.
If you maintain a healthy lifestyle daily these triggers can be prevented. To follow a healthy lifestyle, you need to eat a healthy diet, exercise, quit smoking, limiting alcohol, reducing stress, maintaing blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Arrhythmia is not a serious condition but can cause some difficulty in leading the daily life. If you experience such difficulties, talk to your healthcare provider soon. Bansal Hospital Bhopal has the best cardiology department that caters to every need of its patient inclusive of appropriate diagnosis and treatment while performing critical and safe surgeries if required.