Cardiac Arrhythmia or Dysrhythmia

What is Cardiac Arrhythmia? Know Its Causes, Symptoms, Risks & Treatment

Cardiac arrhythmia or dysrhythmia is a heart disease in which there is irregularity in heartbeats. However, this condition is not to be confused with irregular heart rate as the two do not necessarily occur together. Arrhythmia can occur with normal heart rate, or with one that is either slow or rapid. There has been a constant risk in the number of people with cardiac arrhythmia in India.

What Causes Cardiac Arrhythmia or Dysrhythmia?

Arrhythmias may be caused from a coronary artery disease, an imbalance in electrolyte in blood, changes in heart muscle and injury from a heart attack. An abnormal heart rhythm can occur during the healing process after a heart surgery. However, irregular heart rhythm can also occur in otherwise normal and healthy hearts.

What Are the Symptoms of Cardiac Arrhythmia or Dysrhythmia?

Cardiac arrhythmia usually can be silent and not cause any symptoms.  A doctor can detect this heart disease during a physical exam by monitoring the pulse or through an electrocardiogram. However, when symptoms of a dysrhythmia do occur, they can include:

  • Heart Palpitations
  • Pounding in the chest
  • Dizziness, feeling light-headed
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort
  • Weakness or fatigue

If any of the above symptoms are felt repeatedly then it is advised to consult a cardiologist.

What Are the Risk Factors of Cardiac Arrhythmia or Dysrhythmia?

Some factors that may increase the risk of developing a cardiac arrhythmia could include:

  • Coronary artery disease, other heart problem and previous heart surgery: For almost any kind of arrhythmia, narrowed heart arteries, heart attack, prior heart surgery and other heart problem pose as major risk factors.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: Breathing is interrupted during sleep in this disorder. Thus it can increase the risk of dysrhythmia.
  • High blood pressure: This may cause the walls of the left ventricle to become thick and hard thus changing how electrical impulses travel through the heart. Further it increases the risk of developing coronary artery disease.
  • Thyroid problems: Too much hormone release by the thyroid gland speeds up the metabolism and thus may cause fast or irregular heartbeat.
  • Congenital heart disease: Heart rhythm can get affected if born with a heart problem.
  • Diabetes: With uncontrolled diabetes, the risk of developing coronary artery disease and high blood pressure greatly increases.
  • Electrolyte imbalance: Substances in blood called electrolytes help trigger and conduct the electrical impulses in the heart. If electrolyte levels in the blood are too high or too low, this can affect heart's electrical impulses and contribute to cardiac arrhythmia.
  • Drinking excess alcohol. Drinking excess alcohol can affect the electrical impulses in the heart and increase the chance of developing abnormal heart rhythm.

Treatment for Cardiac Arrhythmia or Dysrhythmia

Treatment of arrhythmia primarily will depend on the type and seriousness of abnormal heart rhythm. Few people with irregular heartbeat would require no treatment. For others, treatment can include medication, making necessary lifestyle changes and opting for surgical procedures.

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