Cardiac Arrhythmia - Irregular Heartbeat
Some of the specific types of heart arrhythmias are described below:
Bradycardia is a slow heart rate that generally results because of problems with the heart’s internal pacemaker, the SA node.
Tachycardia is a fast heart rate that may involve the atria or the ventricles.
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a fast heart rate that originates in the atria.
Ventricular tachycardia is a fast heart rate that originates in the ventricles.
Atrial fibrillation is an uneven and very fast heart rate. The atria may pump five to seven times faster than normal, causing the heart to pump blood improperly.
Atrial flutter is a very fast and steady heartbeat caused by abnormal nerve firing.
Premature atrial contraction (PAC) is an irregular heartbeat with extra beats or premature beats from problems in the atria.
Sick sinus syndrome is an irregular heartbeat caused when the SA node does not work properly and the heart rate slows down.
Premature ventricular contraction (PVC) is an irregular heartbeat with extra beats or premature beats from problems in the ventricles.
Ventricular fibrillation is a rapid irregular heartbeat. Little or no blood may be pumped from the heart. It requires immediate medical attention and can result in sudden death.
Your doctor can begin to diagnose heart arrhythmia by reviewing your medical history and conducting a physical examination and some tests. Your doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to your heart. There are several tests that can be used to diagnose heart arrhythmia.
The tests may include a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG), and echocardiogram. An ECG records the heart’s electrical activity. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of the heart on a monitor. An exercise stress test involves monitoring your ECG and blood pressure while you exercise on a treadmill. The exercise stress test provides information about how your heart works with an increased blood flow. You may wear a Holter monitor for periods of 24 hours or more. A loop recorder can also be used to detect rhythm abnormalities over a long period of time. If your arrhythmia is infrequent, you may wear an event recorder that you activate when you feel symptoms. An event recorder may also be surgically placed under the skin for long periods of time. An electrophysiologic (EP) study is an advanced procedure which can diagnose and even treat some arrhythmias.
Tilt table testing is used to check for sudden drops in blood pressure or heart rate that can cause fainting. For this procedure, you are secured to a table, which will be positioned at different inclines for various periods of time. Your blood pressure and ECG will be recorded.
Am I at RiskPeople with heart conditions, a history of heart attack, blood chemistry imbalances, or endocrine abnormalities are at risk for heart arrhythmias. Using certain medications, caffeine, or illegal drugs can increase your risk for heart arrhythmias.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.