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Abnormal Heart Rhythm

Abnormal Heart Rhythm is a condition in which the heart does not beat in a normal rhythm. A heart rhythm is controlled by the electrical conduction system which causes the chambers of the heart to contract and pump blood in a steady efficient manner enabling to maintain a normal blood pressure and good blood circulation. An abnormal heart rhythm results when the electrical conduction system is damaged or stimulated abnormally due to certain diseases and disorders. The normal electrical sequence begins in the right atrium and spreads throughout the atria to the atrioventricular (AV) node from where the electrical impulses travel down a group of specialized fibers called the His-Purkinje system to all parts of the ventricles. This same route must be followed for the heart to pump properly but when this route is disrupted then we have an irregular heart rhythm. An abnormal heart rhythm is also known as a cardiac arrhythmia or an ectopic heartbeat. An irregular heart rhythm is called a cardiac arrhythmia when it occurs continuously and an abnormal heart rhythm is called an ectopic heartbeat when there are small changes in an otherwise normal heartbeat those leads to extra or skipped heartbeats.

Different types of Abnormal Heart Rhythm are

  • Tachycardia: It is a condition in which the heart beats at a very fast. The heart rate goes over 100 beats per minute as compared to a normal heart rate of 60-100 beats per minute. It is sub-divided into three different types:
    • Supraventricular tachycardia occurs in the upper chambers of the heart.
    • Ventricular tachycardia occurs in the ventricles of the heart.
    • Sinus tachycardia an increase in the heart rate in a state over excitement or when sick and the heartbeat returns to normal once you calm down or get better.
  • Atrial Fibrillation (AF): It is a disorganized heart rhythm which occurs in the upper chambers of the heart. Atrial fibrillation occurs when many unstable electrical impulses quiver out of control.
  • Atrial Flutter (AFL): It t typically occurs in the right atrium and is caused by a single electrical impulse that travels rapidly in the affected atrium.
  • Bradycardia: In this condition the heart beats at a slower rate, that is, less than 60 beats per minute.
  • Ventricular fibrillation: It is an erratic, disorganized firing of impulses from the ventricles causing a lack of blood transportation to different parts of the body.
  • Premature Contraction: The pulse when taken in the wrist or chest in case of premature contractions appears to skip a beat and the skipped beat is so faint or weak that it is not heard or felt.

The causes for an abnormal heart rhythm are

  • When coronary arteries become blocked by cholesterol and other deposits.
  • High blood pressure
  • Some medications may cause the heart rate to change.
  • Abnormalities of the heart

The symptoms for an abnormal heart rhythm are

  • feeling faint, dizzy, or light-headed
  • shortness of breath
  • heart palpitations
  • chest pain
  • pale skin
  • sweating

Different methods used in the treatment of an abnormal heart rhythm are

  • Medications: In many cases abnormal heart rhythms can be treated with a variety of medications, such as beta blockers, antiarrhythmias or calcium channel blockers.
  • Pacemaker: A small device called pacemaker is placed under the skin near the collarbone and connected to a pace wire positioned inside the heart. It delivers small electrical impulse which stimulates the heart to beat faster when it is going too slow.
  • Cardioversion: Electrical shock or drugs are sometimes used to restore the normal rhythm of heart.