Do you have an abnormal hearbeat?

By Dr Arunachalam Esakkiappan

25 Oct, 2017


Have you ever felt your heart skip a beat or a "fluttering" in your chest? A feeling like your heart is beating too fast or too slow!

These can be signs of arrhythmia or an abnormal heartbeat!

Arrhythmia is an irregularity in your heart's natural rate or rhythm. It's usual for your heart to beat at different rates during the day. Your heart rate would be faster when you are physically active, anxious or excited and slower when you're resting. Most arrhythmias by itself might not be significant.

Yet, some arrhythmias are extremely dangerous or even life threatening. If you notice other symptoms like tiredness, fainting spells, rapid heartbeat or pounding, chest pain and an inability to cope with the normal routine then you need to see your cardiologist for a complete assessment of your heart’s function!

When your heart doesn’t beat in the normal rhythm it is unable to pump blood efficiently.  Lack of blood flow and can damage your organs. In extreme cases, arrhythmias can lead to sudden cardiac arrest as well.

Causes of Arrhythmias
Arrhythmia occurs when electrical impulses in the heart don't work properly. You may have an arrhythmia even if your heart is healthy. Or it may be caused by several factors, including:

•    History of coronary artery disease.
•    Electrolyte imbalances in your blood (such as sodium or potassium).
•    Changes in your heart muscle.
•    Injury from a heart attack.
•    Healing process after heart surgery.

What are the treatments for abnormal heart rhythms?
There are different treatments for arrhythmias.  Depending on the type of abnormal heart rhythm, your doctor may recommend using medication, lifestyle changes, cardiac procedures or surgery to stop, prevent or control arrhythmia. Treatment may also involve use of an implantable device.

Arrhythmias can increase your risk of heart attack, cardiac arrest and stroke. Many arrhythmias are caused by underlying heart disease. Therefore, it is important to manage the risk factors for heart disease which includes keeping your blood cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, quitting to smoke, and avoiding alcohol. Strong emotional stress can lead to arrhythmias. Try to manage stress through activities such as yoga, quiet time, meditation and relaxation techniques.

Learn how to take your pulse.

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