Arrhythmia is a complex problem of the heart involving the electrical stimuli and the heart muscle contractions. Several types of problems can occur which arise from malfunctions within the electrical ‘system’ which controls heartbeats. Many of these conditions can be different but may ‘feel’ the same to an individual. A proper diagnosis can only be made by a trained professional.

Also known as super ventricular tachyarrhythmia, are a group of conditions which results in the heart beating faster than normal (more than 100 beats per minute). This problem is most often caused by abnormalities in the heart’s electrical stimulation which regulates the timing of heartbeats. Symptoms of this type of arrhythmia include:

  • Fluttering in the Chest
  • Feeling Faint
  • Sudden Weakness
  • Chest Pain
  • Sudden Dizziness

This type of arrhythmia, also known as sinus node dysfunction, is characterized by a slower than normal heartbeat (fewer than 50 beats per minute). The most common cause of this condition is a buildup of scar tissue on what is called the ‘sinus node.’ This node is the point in the heart from which the electrical signals that control the heartbeat originate. Scar tissue in this area interferes with the electrical signals resulting in the irregular heartbeat. It is not known what causes the scar tissue, but it may be related to conditions such as severe liver disease, hypothyroidism, typhoid fever, or other diseases. An abnormally slow heartbeat can result in:

  • Chest Pain
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

Atrial fibrillation is a type of tachycardia (number 1 above) which causes an irregular and rapid heartbeat during which the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) quiver or flutters rapidly (fibrillate) instead of beating normally. Because the upper chambers of the heart are fibrillating so rapidly (up to 500 contractions per minute), the lower chambers (the ventricles that produce the actual heartbeat) are unable to keep up. As a result, the upper and lower chambers are out of sync, and the individual’s pulse is both sporadic and rapid (from, 80 to 160 beats per minute). Some patients with atrial fibrillation may not experience any symptoms. Often, however, the following symptoms may be present:

  • Feeling out of Breath
  • Chest Pain
  • Fainting or a feeling of almost fainting
  • Weakness
  • Palpitations

This is a group of arrhythmias which are caused by problems with the signal from the sinus node (upper chamber) to the ventricle. With these arrhythmias, the electrical signal may be slow, intermittent, or blocked entirely. This condition may be caused by coronary heart disease, heart attack, or related to some medications. Symptoms for heart block are similar to those above. These include:

  • Palpitations and irregular heartbeats
  • Lightheadedness and the feeling of being faint or fainting
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath

This is an irregular heartbeat that begins in one of the lower heart chambers (ventricles) and may last from a few seconds to several hours. The condition usually occurs in patients with prior heart attacks or heart disease or damage. This type of arrhythmia should be treated as soon as possible as it may progress to the more dangerous ventricular fibrillation, a life-threatening condition. If the condition lasts only a few seconds, there may be no symptoms. However, a prolonged episode can cause the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations or Mild Fluttering
  • Chest Pain
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Sudden cardiac arrest, which can be lethal

When the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) begin rapid and uncoordinated pulsing, the condition can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death. This is seen in individuals with previous histories of heart attacks and heart diseases. Often, the ventricular fibrillation results from an episode of ventricular tachycardia. This condition is grave and medical attention is required immediately. Ventricular fibrillation stops the heart and results in loss of pulse, loss of consciousness, and, ultimately, death.

Why Houston Heart RhythmThere are many types and kinds of arrhythmia and heartbeat irregularities. Some of these are less serious than others but any patient experiencing heart palpitations or any of the symptoms listed above should make an appointment with Arrhythmia Centers of America for evaluation and, if appropriate, a plan of treatment. While the causes of arrhythmia are not fully understood, there are excellent medications and treatment approaches available for managing the disease. Give ACA a call today to schedule a time to speak with one of our physicians, (832) 478-5067.

If you or someone close by faints, experiences chest pain, loses consciousness or has difficulty breathing for more than a few minutes, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.

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