Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Arrhythmias are abnormal beats of the heart. Types of arrhythmias include:
Arrhythmias can be caused by:
Factors that may increase your risk of arrhythmias include:
Some arrhythmias may occur without any symptoms. Others may cause noticeable symptoms, such as:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will listen to your heart with an instrument called a stethoscope.
Tests may include:
Not all arrhythmias need to be treated. Many are harmless and do not cause problems. When arrhythmias affect heart function, and cause symptoms serious enough to affect your daily life, treatment may be needed. The goal of arrhythmia treatment is to restore the normal rhythm to your heart to avoid potential complications
Medications can be used to slow down or speed up your heart rate, or return your heart rhythm to normal.
Various causes of a rapid heartbeat can be shocked back to a normal rhythm. These treatments involve placing paddles on the chest or back. An electrical current is passed through the chest wall to the heart. The current resets the heart's electrical circuits. It also tries to return the heart rhythm to normal.
Surgery can be used to remove tissue to disrupt factors that cause arrhythmias. It may also involve implanting devices that trigger and maintain regular rhythm.
To help reduce your chance of heart arrhythmias:
American Heart Association
Heart Rhythm Society
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Arrhythmias. American Heart Association website. Available at:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/Arrhythmia_UCM_002013_SubHomePage.jsp. Accessed November 8, 2012.
Arrhythmia. Texas Heart Institute website. Available at:
http://www.texasheartinstitute.org/HIC/Topics/Cond/Arrhythmia.cfm. Updated October 2012. Accessed November 8, 2012.
arrhythmia. National Heart Lung and Blood website. Available at:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed November 8, 2012.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
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