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Cardiac Arrhythmias

Arrhythmia refers to irregular heart rhythms. The heart can beat too fast, beat too slow, or beat out of proper sequence. Arrhythmias are common. Some are minor and will not cause additional health problems, but others can be serious and life-threatening.

Tachycardia is an arrhythmia where the heart beats too fast, defined as more than 100 beats per minute.

Bradycardia is an arrhythmia where the heart beats too slowly, defined as slower than 60 beats per minute. Other arrhythmias involve heart beats that are disordered.

Premature ventricular contraction are extra heart beats or premature beats that might feel like your heart is skipping a beat. They occur occasionally in many people and are not usually treated.

Ventricular tachycardia is a fast heart beat caused by abnormal electrical signals in the ventricles of the heart. The venticle cannot fill with enough blood before contracting. This condition can be serious and is usually treated.

Ventricular fibrillation is a rapid, disordered heart beat, where the heart seems to quiver without pumping enough blood from the heart. Immediate medical help is needed to restore normal heart rhythm and function. Atrial fibrillation can also lead to serious heart problems but isn't immediately life threatening.

Symptoms of arrhythmia depend on the type of irregularity. Some feel like your heart skips a beat, flutters, or has a beat stronger than most.

When arrhythmias become chronic, they often affect heart function. The heart may not pump enough blood or blood can become backed up in the heart. These problems cause symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, fainting, chest pain. The most serious arrhythmias must be treated immediately to prevent sudden death.

If your arrhythmia is causing symptoms or puts you at risk for further heart problems, treatments are available. Medications can help regulate the tissues that cause the heart to beat. Defibrillators are devices which can restore normal heart rhythms when immediate treatment is needed. Ablation is a procedure where dysfunctional heart tissue is removed, thereby removing the source of the abnormal heart beat. Pacemakers can be implanted to help regulate heart beats.


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