Cardiac arrhythmia is a term that refers to a change in the normal sequence of electric impulses. These impulses can cause the heart to beat faster or slower. If the heart will not beat properly, this will result in ineffective pumping of blood.
When the heart cannot pump blood effectively and efficiently, your lungs, brain and your other organ cannot perform their functions well. This will result in them shutting down or getting damaged.
Normally, your heart is a strong muscle that can pump blood continuously throughout your circulatory system. Your heart beats 100,000 times per day on average. It also pumps 2,000 gallons of blood every day.
With this in mind, in a 70-year lifetime, a human heart can beat more than 2.5 billion times.
Abnormal Heart Beats
As mentioned earlier, cardiac arrhythmia is a term used to describe abnormal beating of the hearts. There are times that this condition is harmless. However, for some, it can be life-threatening.
Some cardiac arrhythmias are brief enough that they will not cause the overall circulation. But if they would last longer, they could cause your heart rate to slow down or to beat faster. In return, your heart pumps blood less effectively.
When your heart rate is faster than normal, it is called tachycardia. In this situation, your heart beats more than 100 beats a minute.
On the other hand, if your heart beats slower than 60, a minute, then it is called bradycardia.
There are many things that can cause cardiac arrhythmia. Scarring of heart tissue, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, stress, and drug abuse are just a few of the most common causes of this condition.
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing this condition. Any type of heart disease can cause any kind of arrhythmia. Having thyroid problems may also increase your chances of experiencing this condition.
Caffeine is also another factor that can cause your heart to beat faster. For some, it may develop into a more serious form of arrhythmia.
Symptoms of Cardiac Arrhythmia
There is a broad range of symptoms of cardiac arrhythmia. It can go from barely perceptible to a cardiovascular collapse. It can even cause death.
Palpitation or skipped beat is one of the most common symptoms of this condition. If the premature beats would occur often, they could cause you to become aware of it. The fluttering sensation can even be felt in the chest or neck.
If the abnormal heart beat last long enough, it can affect how your heart works. The more serious symptoms will develop, including fatigue, dizziness, chest pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath and chest pain.
In extreme cases, your heart will collapse or cause a sudden cardiac arrest.
Doctors recommend learning how to monitor your pulse. This is especially true if you have an artificial pacemaker. In monitoring your pulse, you should put your second and third fingers of your one hand on the inside of your wrist of the other hand. Feel the pulse and count the number of beats for every minute. Then, keep a record of it.
There are several tests that can properly diagnose a cardiac arrhythmia. One of them is ECG or EKG (Electrocardioradiography). It’s a standard tool used by doctors to diagnose arrhythmias as it can record relative timing of the electrical events in your heart.
It is used to measure how long an impulse takes to travel through the atria and ventricles. But because of the fleeting nature of this condition, you may have a normal ECG even if you are complaining of irregular heartbeats.
The reason for this is that ECG is passive. This means that it can only record arrhythmia if it occurs.
Treatment of Cardiac Arrhythmia
As stated above, most arrhythmias are harmless. They will not cause any harm, even if they are left untreated. However, if your doctor finds out that you have indeed this condition, he/she must need to know if it is abnormal or reflects the normal processes of your heart.
Now, if your arrhythmia turns out to be abnormal, your physician will immediately set up a treatment plan. The goal of any treatment plan for this condition is to prevent the formation of blood clots. This is to reduce your risk of suffering from a stroke.
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Treatment will also help in controlling your heart rate within a normal range and restore your normal heart rhythm. It also aims to treat the heart disease that has been causing your arrhythmias. Then, your treatment will also reduce your risk factors for suffering from a heart disease.
One of the most common treatments for this condition is the intake of medicine. The most popular medicines for this condition will include amiodarone, bepridil and disopyramide.
Ablation is also performed to treat rapid heart beating. It’s a non-surgical procedure with a success rate of 90 percent. With this in mind, you can easily go back to your normal activities after a few days.
Other treatment options will include defibrillation and some devices.
Managing cardiac arrhythmias
When managing your cardiac arrhythmias, it is a must that you avoid certain substances that can cause irregular heartbeat. These will include caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and cold/cough medicines.
Appetite suppressants must also be avoided, along with psychotropic drugs and beta-blockers for hypertension. Street drugs should be avoided. These will include marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines.
How to manage your condition?
Although most arrhythmias are harmless, they can still increase your risk of heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest. To manage your condition, you should learn how to reduce your high blood pressure, control your cholesterol levels and lose extra weight. It is also essential that you eat a healthy diet that is friendly to your heart.
As mentioned earlier, tobacco smoking should be avoided as it can only worsen your condition.
Getting regular physical activity is also a must to manage your condition.
Cardiac arrhythmias are fairly common. They are harmless at times. But they can also be life-threatening. For that reason, it is a must that you consult your doctor about it. Your situation may be a lot worse than you think.