What is arrhythmia?
Arrhythmia is a problem with the rhythm of your heartbeat. Your heart may beat too quickly, too slowly, or with an erratic rhythm. Arrhythmias occur when the electrical signals that control your heartbeats don’t work properly.
What are different types of arrhythmias?
Arrhythmias are categorized by where they occur in your heart and how they differ from a normal heartbeat. There are many types of arrhythmias, but the major groups include:
Tachycardia happens when your heart beats too fast, or more than 100 times per minute when you’re resting. Tachycardia can originate in the upper chambers of your heart (atria) or the lower chambers (ventricles).
Atrial fibrillation (AFIB) is one of the most common types of tachycardia. AFIB causes rapid, irregular contractions in your atria. Without treatment, this condition may lead to a stroke.
Bradycardia refers to a slow heart rate that’s less than 60 beats per minute at rest. However, a slow resting heart rate isn’t necessarily a sign of a problem. Many physically fit people have normally slow heart rates.
The team at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates determines whether your slow heart rate is normal.
What causes arrhythmia?
Arrhythmias occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeat get blocked or delayed. Many factors can cause an arrhythmia, including:
- High blood pressure
- A heart attack
- Scar tissue from a previous heart attack
- Blocked arteries in the heart (coronary artery disease)
- An overactive or underactive thyroid gland
- Low blood sugar from diabetes or an eating disorder
- Low levels of electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and calcium
- Emotional and physical states like stress, anger, anxiety, and pain
Certain medications, including those that treat high blood pressure, depression, and psychosis, may also cause arrhythmia.
How are arrhythmias diagnosed and treated?
To diagnose an arrhythmia, your provider at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates begins by asking about your symptoms and medical history. They may also take an electrocardiogram (EKG) during your physical exam to measure the electrical activity of your heart.
Then, they develop a personalized treatment plan for your specific type of arrhythmia. If your arrhythmia doesn’t cause bothersome symptoms or increase your risk of serious complications, you may not need treatment. In this case, the team at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates may simply monitor your condition.
Arrhythmia treatments include:
- Medications to control your heart rate
- Lifestyle changes like eating a heart-healthy diet
- Implantable devices like a pacemaker
To find the best treatment for your arrhythmia, call South Shore Cardiovascular Associates or book an appointment online today.