Types of Arrhythmias

Arrhythmias are identified not only by their origin (atria or ventricles) but also by the speed with which they induce heart rate fluctuations:

  • Tachycardia –Fast Heartbeat! when the resting heart rate is more than 100 beats/ minute.
  • Bradycardia – Slow Heartbeat! when the resting heart rate is less than 60 beats/ minute.

Not all tachycardia or bradycardia indicate heart disease. It’s natural to have a fast heartbeat during exercise- when your heart races to supply more oxygen-rich blood to your tissues. Besides, it is not uncommon for the heartbeat to slow down during a restful sleep or deep relaxation.

Premature Heartbeats

A premature heartbeat is essentially an extra beat, although it feels like a skipped heartbeat. Even if you occasionally experience a premature heartbeat, it rarely indicates a severe issue. Even so, in those with cardiovascular problems, a premature pulse can induce a longer-lasting arrhythmia. Premature heartbeats that occur frequently and linger for years can progress to a weak heart. They can develop while you’re sleeping or might be triggered by stress, strenuous exercise, or stimulants like caffeine or nicotine.

Do you know?

  • A person’s resting heart rate may drop as they become more fit. Olympic athletes, for example, with healthier hearts have a resting heart rate of less than 60 beats/minute.

Symptoms of Arrhythmia

Arrhythmias can occur without causing any symptoms or indications. Your doctor may find that you have an arrhythmia during a regular checkup even before you experience the symptoms. However, having noticeable signs and symptoms does not always imply that you have a major concern. 

An arrhythmia can cause the following symptoms:

  • A pounding heart (tachycardia).
  • A heartbeat that is slow (bradycardia).
  • Pain in the chest.
  • Breathing problems.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue from Anxiety.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Sweating and palpitations.
  • Syncope (fainting) or near-fainting.

World Heart Rhythm Week

The Arrhythmia Alliance organizes an annual awareness campaign called World Heart Rhythm Week from the 7th – 13th June every year.

This week focuses on identifying arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms) and their severity. Since arrhythmias and hypertension (high blood pressure) can coexist, it’s extremely important to examine other heart disorders like hypertension in patients with irregular heartbeats to ascertain the probable likelihood of future complications.

Hypertension is the most common risk factor for non-communicable disease death and disability worldwide, as well as a warning flag for other life-threatening cardiac disorders. Contrary to popular belief, Hypertension and heart disease do not discriminate on age.  People of all ages can develop hypertension; however, the underlying causes typically differ between younger and older generations.

Did you know?

  • Heart failure, coronary artery disease, and stroke are all complications of hypertension. It currently affects 1.13 billion people globally, with 17.9 million people dying annually from cardiovascular diseases.

Stress management and other medical disorders such as hyperlipidemia are necessary for individuals with hypertension. When combined with a healthy lifestyle, regular blood pressure readings, and individually designed treatment regimens, these approaches can help lower the risk of life-threatening illnesses.

Causes of Arrhythmia

Certain conditions can lead to or cause an arrhythmia, including:

  • Scarring of the heart tissue as a result of a previous heart attack.
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Hypertension
  • A thyroid gland that is overactive (hyperthyroidism)
  • A thyroid gland that is underactive (hypothyroidism)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines, nutritional supplements
  • Genetics
  • Diabetes
  • COVID-19 infection
  • Tobacco use
  • Excessive use of alcohol or caffeine

Arrhythmia: High-Risk Group

You may be more likely to develop an arrhythmia when-

  • Age – As you get older, your odds increase.
  • Genes- If a close family has experienced an arrhythmia, your chances are likely to be higher. Heart disease can run in families.
  • Lifestyle Adoption- Smoking, alcohol, and recreational substances can all increase your Arrhythmia risk.
  • Medical complications- Like Hypertension, diabetes, low blood sugar, obesity, sleep apnea, and autoimmune illnesses.
  • Environment- Pollution like air pollution can increase your chances of developing arrhythmia.
  • Coronary artery disease, other cardiac conditions, and an old heart surgery can increase Arrhythmia risk.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea- Interrupted breathing while you sleep increases the risk of bradycardia, atrial fibrillation, and other arrhythmia complications.
  • Electrolyte imbalance- When the body’s electrolytes in the blood like potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium are too low or too high,  it can interfere with your heart’s electrical impulses and lead to arrhythmia development.
  • Drugs and dietary supplements- Certain over-the-counter cough and cold treatments, as well as some prescription medications, may trigger an arrhythmia onset.
  • Drinking too much alcohol- May disrupt your heart’s electrical impulses, increasing your risk of an atrial fibrillation.
  • Caffeine, nicotine, or illegal drug use- Can make your heartbeat quicker, perhaps leading to more severe arrhythmias. Illegal drugs, such as amphetamines and cocaine, can have a massive effect on the heart, resulting in arrhythmia or sudden death from ventricular fibrillation.

How to Prevent Arrhythmia Onset?

You can minimize your risk of heart disease and prevent cardiac arrhythmia by following a healthier lifestyle, which can include-

  • A heart-healthy diet is a balanced mix of all the essential nutrients.
  • Be alert and cautious when taking over-the-counter medications, as certain cold and cough medicines contain stimulants that can cause a rapid heartbeat.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active.
  • Quitting Smoking.
  • Moderate consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Stress management as high levels of stress and anger can disrupt heart rhythm.