Heart Attack

Cardiac Rhythm Disturbance

Cardiac Rhythm disturbances are abnormal and irregular heartbeats, also known as heart rhythm disturbance or Arrhythmias. Cardiac Rhythm Disturbances interrupt your heart’s electrical signals and cause your heart to beat either too slow or too fast, or in an abnormal way.

A human heart works according to its electrical conduction system. This conduction system determines how fast or slow the heartbeats and coordinates the squeezing of the heart chamber—normal Heartbeats from 60 to 100 times per minute in a regular pattern.

Millions of people worldwide suffer from Cardiac Rhythm Disturbances. In the United States, about 1 out of 18 people suffer from this problem. Over time and age, the risk of this problem is even higher, leading to a Cardiac death due to heart attack or heart failure. According to the American Heart Association, about 180,000 to 450,000 people die annually from sudden cardiac deaths.

Causes of Cardiac Rhythm Disturbances:

There a many physical and environmental causes which result in Cardiac Rhythm Disturbances, such as:

  • Excessive use of alcohol on a regular basis.
  • Smoking.
  • Use of drugs, for example, cocaine or amphetamines.
  • Use of expired medicines.
  • Wrong use of medicines, with or without prescription.
  • Taking excessive caffeine and nicotine.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Diabetes.
  • Presence of too many stress hormones in the body.
  • Current or Previous heart attack.
  • Blocked arteries in the heart.
  • Genetics.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Coronary heart disease.
  • Rheumatic heart disease.
  • Congenital heart defects.
  • Overactive or underactive thyroid glands.

Types and subtypes of Cardiac Rhythm Disturbances:

1. Bradycardia:

Bradycardia is a slow heart rhythm disease; in this condition, human heartbeats at a lower rate of fewer than 60 heartbeats per minute. Types of Bradycardia includes:

  • Sick sinus syndrome: The sinus node in the heart is responsible for setting the speed of the heart. Due to some reasons, if the sinus node does not work correctly, a person’s heartbeat changes too fast or too slow. Sick sinus syndrome disrupts or blocks the travel impulses by causing scaring near the sinus node, which results in a slow heartbeat. It is most commonly found in older adults.
  • Conduction block: Conduction block happens in the heart’s electrical pathway. Then produces those signals that trigger the heartbeat to slow down or stop, resulting in a heart attack.

2. Tachycardia:

In this problem, a human heart beats at a higher rate, in a time of having more than 100 heartbeats per minute.

3. Supraventricular Arrhythmia:

A supraventricular Arrhythmia is a heart rhythm disorder in the heart’s upper chambers. In many cases, Supraventricular Arrhythmia begins in the atria. It causes the heart to beat either too fast or too slow, or irregularly. There are also many subtypes of Supraventricular Arrhythmia:

  • Atrial Fibrillation(Afib): When a single muscle fiber in the human heart twitch or contract in a disorganized way, resulting in a fast or irregular heartbeat, this condition is known as Atrial Fibrillation. Afib can cause blood to move in the heart’s upper chambers, leading to blood clots to the heart and an increase in the risk of stroke.
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome: This syndrome is a group of congenital heart defects caused by extra muscle pathways in heart chambers between arteria and ventricles. These different pathways created due to this syndrome cause the heart’s electrical signals to be disrupted, and it takes too long for the heart to receive them.
  • Supraventricular Tachycardia(SVT): An abnormally fast or erratic heartbeat that affects the heart’s upper chamber is Supraventricular Tachycardia(SVT). In this condition, the electrical signal in your heart’s upper chambers fires weirdly, ultimately increasing your heartbeat. 

4. Ventricular arrhythmias:

An abnormal heart rhythm leads the heart’s lower chambers to twitch instead of pump properly. This problem can limit or stop your heart from supplying blood properly to your body. Some types of Ventricular arrhythmias are given below: 

  • Ventricular Tachycardia: It occurs when the pacemaking role of your heart is taken by another area of the heart that is typically not involved in this process, which results in heart signals sents down to a different path and cause irregular heartbeat.
  • Premature Ventricular contraction: It occurs when the ventricles of the heart contract and relax abnormally. In this case, the heart’s ventricles contract too soon and disturb the whole sequence of a heartbeat.
  • Ventricular Fibrillation(Vfib) is one of the most severe cardiac rhythm disturbances. When your heart receives impulses simultaneously from many different locations to beat, then a condition of irregular or uncontrolled heartbeat occurs—this causes erratic or uncontrolled heartbeat, which requires immediate medical attention.

5. Bradyarrhythmias:

Bradyarrhythmias is a slow rate or irregular rhythm when the heartbeat is lower than 60 times per second, and disease causes it in a heart conduction system.

Symptoms of Cardiac Rhythm Disturbances:

Symptoms of this problem vary from type to type. If a person has Tachycardia, he may feel that his heart beats faster than usual even when he is calm. If he has arrhythmia, he may feel fluttering in the chest or extra heartbeats. If he is suffering from Bradycardia or Braddyarrhythmias, he feels that his heart is beating too slowly in an irregular way.

Some of the symptoms that are common among all types:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety

When to see a doctor:

If you feel like your heart is beating irregularly, either too fast or too slow or skipping a beat, you need to see a doctor. Try to take immediate medical help when you feel shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, fainting, or chest pain. Cardiac rhythm disturbance causes a dramatic decrease in blood pressure, resulting in a heart attack or heart failure. Due to not reaching the hospital on time, the patient’s death can also occur.

Diagnosis and treatment:

A doctor can diagnose a Cardiac Rhythm Disturbance based on the symptoms, risk factors, physical exam, or medical history from different tests or procedures. If your family doctor discovers this Cardiac rhythm problem, he may refer you to an expert cardiologist or electrophysiologist.

The doctor will check the heartbeat and pulse rate; if he notices any disturbance, he may further order an electrocardiogram(EKG) for confirmation.

The doctor may also be asked for further testing like chest x-ray, blood tests, stress tests, or coronary angiography for treatment. The treatment mainly depends on the type and severity of Cardiac rhythm disturbance; the treatment includes medications, lifestyle changes, invasive therapies, through electrical devices, or surgery. 

Complications:

Complications mainly depend on the type of Cardian Rhythm Disturbance. The complications in heart arrhythmia may include stroke, heart failure, or sudden death. It may increase the risk of blood clots, and if the clot breaks loose, it may travel from heart to brain, resulting in a stroke. 

Recovery:

If surgical treatment is required for your cardiac rhythm disturbance, you should stay in the hospital for a week or more after surgery. Patients may be discharged from the hospital a week after surgery, but the recovery times continue at home. This process depends on your age, health status, activities, diet, and proper medication. The patient may return to work after 4 to 6 weeks of surgery.

Lifestyle changes:

Lift style changes that prevent the risk of Cardiac rhythm disturbance are:

  • Taking a heart-healthy diet.
  • Staying physically active.
  • Avoid smoking and Alcohol.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Limiting caffeine in the body.
  • Reducing stress and anger in life.
  • Using medication according to the prescription by a doctor.
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