Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
Rhythm disturbances occur frequently enough to go unnoticed by most people. They can be fleeting and unpredictable. Under normal conditions, the heart corrects its misstep and continues beating as it should. In some people, arrhythmias can last longer, affecting the heart's ability to function properly. Longer lasting issues may be the result of conduction problems or ischemia, a reduction in blood supply to the heart.
It is possible for arrhythmias to go undetected until symptoms and complications appear. Loss of heart function may become noticeable when you experience symptoms. This may indicate the heart is unable to meet the body's demands.
Conduction problems may cause:
Ischemia can affect any organ or tissue in the body, including the heart muscle. The heart muscle needs a sufficient supply of blood and oxygen to work properly. When the heart muscle does not get enough blood, you may notice symptoms.
Ischemia may cause:
Over time, ischemia can damage the heart muscle. Damage and scarring can lead to heart arrhythmias.
Some arrhythmias you may feel are harmless, but others can be serious. Serious arrhythmias may cause a
sudden cardiac arrest, or death. If you experience any of these symptoms, call for emergency medical services right away.
Mayou R, Sprigings D, Birkhead J, Price J. Characteristics of patients presenting to a cardiac clinic with palpitation.
Symptoms, diagnosis & monitoring of arrhythmia. American Heart Association website. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/SymptomsDiagnosisMonitoringofArrhythmia/Symptoms-Diagnosis-Monitoring-of-Arrhythmia_UCM_002025_Article.jsp#.VmcU002FMdU. Updated October 25, 2012. Accessed March 19, 2014.
What are the signs and symptoms of an arrhythmia?
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/signs. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed March 19, 2014.
Zimetbaum P, Josephson ME. Evaluation of patients with palpitations.
N Engl J Med.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
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