What is Arrhythmias?
Arrhythmias happen when the coordination of electrical signals does not work correctly, causing the heart to beat irregularly, too slowly, or too fast. Some arrhythmias are harmless. However, some others can cause severe symptoms, increasing the risk of stroke or cardiac arrest.
There are some categories of arrhythmia, including:
- Bradycardia, or a slow heartbeat
- Early heartbeat, or a premature contraction
- Irregular heartbeat (flutter or fibrillation)
- Tachycardia, or a fast heartbeat
What causes Arrhythmias?
Several factors can cause Arrhythmias, including:
- Certain dietary and herbal supplements
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland
- Substance use disorder
- Scarring of the heart, often due to a heart attack
- Some medications
- Structural changes in the heart
- Too much Alcohol
- Too much Coffee
Healthy heart health will hardly ever experience arrhythmia unless they are exposed to a substance use disorder or an electric shock.
How is Arrhythmias Treated?
Treatment depends on the type of arrhythmia; it will only be necessary if the condition is at risk of more severe complications.
The doctor will need to treat the condition if it is due to an underlying disease; if not, the doctor may advise implementing a pacemaker; a small device that goes under the skin at chest or abdomen level to help control abnormal heart rhythms and use electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a regular minimum rate.
There are several different treatments for tachycardia:
Vagal maneuvers: Specific exercises that a person can try
Medications: usually reduce the number of tachycardia episodes. Some medicines may help the electrical conduction of the heart.
Cardioversion: an electric shock or medication may reset the heart to its regular rhythm.
Ablation therapy: one or more catheters are placed into the inner heart areas where they suspect may be the source of the arrhythmia. The surgeon will then use catheters to destroy small sections of damaged tissue, which often corrects the arrhythmia.
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): the implants will be near the left collarbone. Once this device monitors the heart rhythm and detects an oddly fast rate, it stimulates the heart to return to its regular speed.
Maze procedure: a surgeon makes a series of surgical incisions in the heart. Once they heal into scars, they form blocks to guide electrical impulses, helping the heartbeat efficiently.
Ventricular aneurysm surgery: Sometimes, an aneurysm, or bulge, in a blood vessel leads the heart to an arrhythmia. If treatments are not effective, the aneurysm has to be removed.
Coronary bypass surgery: A surgeon grafts arteries or veins from elsewhere in the body onto the coronary arteries. This treatment helps the circulation bypass any regions that have become narrow and improves the blood supply to the heart muscle.