Journal

Arrhythmias: An Overview

July 17, 2022

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Let’s have a heart-to-heart about arrhythmias. Simply put, arrhythmias are irregular heart rate patterns. They can occur when the heart rate is too fast, too slow, or simply abnormal. And they tend to be caused by an electrical issue.

Types of Arrhythmias

There are two main types of arrhythmias. They’re grouped based on the speed of the heart rate (HR):

Tachycardia: A condition of having a fast heart rate (resting HR >100bpm), such as:

  • Atrial fibrillation (A-fib)
  • Atrial flutter
  • Supraventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Ventricular tachycardia

Bradycardia: A condition of having a slow heart rate (resting HR < 60bpm). It should be noted that some people who are very physically fit could also have a RHR of 60 and lower, without it being an indication of bradycardia. However, if the heart rate is this low without the ability for the heart to efficiently pump blood, it’s likely bradycardia. Examples of this condition include:

  • Sick sinus syndrome
  • Conduction block

What are the Symptoms of Arrhythmias?

Arrhythmias can be experienced in many ways. Some have no symptoms at all while others can feel like a fluttering or quickening in heartrate. Other symptoms of arrhythmias include:

  • Fluttering sensations in the chest
  • Tachycardia, or rapid heartbeat
  • Bradycardia, or slow heartbeat
  • Chest pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Irregular sweating

While some are perfectly harmless (though admittedly annoying), others can be life threatening. Because of this, it’s important to be informed. And to know when to see your doctor for guidance.

Causes and Risk Factors of Arrhythmias

Because an arrhythmia is really just an irregular heart rate pattern, there are many different causes. And many of the causes naturally leave you at greater risk for arrhythmias. Some examples of this include:

  • Heart attack (current and past)
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid diseases (hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism)
  • Hypertension
  • Obstructed sleep apnea
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Excessive alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Genetics
  • Particular medications

If you have any of these, it’s important to see your doctor regularly for routine checkups. And be sure to voice your thoughts and concerns. Since arrhythmias often have no symptoms, screening for them as a proactive measure is always recommended.

What are the Complications with Arrhythmias?

Of course, with any condition comes complications. Heart arrhythmias are no different. Some complications associated with arrhythmias include heart failure, stroke, and blood clots. If your doctor finds it suitable for you, they might recommend that you start taking blood thinners to reduce your chance of both blood clot and stroke. And there are always measures that can be taken to both prevent arrhythmias and to reduce symptoms and severity.

Arrhythmia Prevention and Management

The key to arrhythmia prevention and management is leading a heart healthy life. (We know, easier said than done). But there are plenty of lifestyle changes that can be made to lower risk. And by focusing on one area at a time and making improvements at your pace, it is achievable! Some things you can do are:

  • Focus on heart-healthy meals
  • Move your body
  • Stay within a healthy weight-range
  • Minimize stress levels
  • Lessen caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Quit or avoid smoking

Using Cardiogram for Arrhythmias

Keep an eye on your heart rate. With Cardiogram, you have the ability to observe your own heart’s patterns throughout the day. Keep an eye on your heart rate and resting heart rate. Notice if it goes above or below the thresholds noted above.

Track symptoms. Be sure to keep track of symptoms, and to tag anything that seems to trigger those symptoms. The more information you have, the easier it is to spot a potential problem.

Share data with your doctor. With a Cardiogram Premium membership, you can also easily share all of this data with your doctor. It’s as easy as sending them a PDF. This can significantly help with the diagnostic process. Having all of this data will also allow your doctor to provide a more tailored management plan in the event you are diagnosed.

Enroll in heart healthy habits. Cardiogram is filled with heart healthy habits, all of which will lower your risk of and help manage arrhythmias. Choose from stress-reducing habits to those that involve physical activity.