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How serious is an Irregular Heartbeat?


Irregular Heartbeat: An arrhythmia is a heart condition that is often known as irregular heartbeat. In this condition, an individual’s heart may beat too slowly, too quickly, too early, or with a distinctive pattern. This condition occurs when the electrical signals that coordinate heartbeats are not working correctly.

This condition may be dangerous in some situations and can even cause death.

In this blog, we have defined arrhythmia and its symptoms, causes, and treatment. Please read this blog sincerely to understand all about an irregular heartbeat.

How severe is an Irregular Heartbeat?

Cardiac arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat refers to conditions that cause the heart to beat irregularly, too quickly, or too slowly. There are many categories of this condition, including;

  • Slow heartbeat or bradycardia
  • Irregular heartbeat, also known as fibrillation or flutter
  • Tachycardia, or a fast heartbeat
  • A premature contraction or early heartbeat

Most arrhythmias are not much severe and do not cause complications. Some, however, can enhance the risk of cardiac arrest or stroke.

Some individuals may hear doctors use “dysrhythmia” when indicating an irregular heartbeat. The words dysrhythmia and arrhythmia mean the same, but the phrase arrhythmia is more prevalent.

There are two main complications for this condition, and they can be dangerous. The complications may include; 

Stroke: Atrial fibrillation means that your heart is not pumping efficiently. This condition can contribute blood to collect in pools and become clots. If clots dislodge, they may go to a brain artery, leading to a fatal blockage or stroke.

A stroke can result in brain damage and may require immediate medical help. This condition can also lead to sudden death even in youngsters.

Heart failure: Chronic tachycardia or bradycardia can cause heart failure. When the heart fails, it cannot pump enough blood to different body organs. If organs do not get blood for a while, they may die. However, treatments can usually manage this condition.

Note: These consequences do not occur in everyone; they slightly depend on the type of arrhythmia.

Types of arrhythmia

Atrial fibrillation: It is the irregular beating of atrial chambers and involves tachycardia. Atrial fibrillation is common and mainly develops in adult people over 65 years of age.

Atrial flutter: While fibrillation causes several random quivers in the atrium, atrial flutter is usually from one area that is not conducting correctly. This leads to a consistent pattern in abnormal heart conduction.

Supraventricular tachycardia: This condition is also known as SVT and refers to a rapid but rhythmically regular heartbeat. Patients can experience a burst of accelerated heartbeats that can last from a few seconds to a few hours.

Ventricular tachycardia: This irregular heartbeat refers to abnormal electrical impulses that begin in the ventricles and produce an abnormally fast heartbeat. This often happens when the heart has a scar from an old heart attack.

Ventricular fibrillation: This condition indicates an irregular heart rhythm consisting of rapid fluttering and uncoordinated contractions of the ventricles. The ventricles don’t pump blood but quiver instead.

Long QT syndrome: This condition refers to a heart rhythm disorder that sometimes leads to uncoordinated, rapid heartbeats. This can cause fainting, which may be life-threatening.

Causes of irregular heartbeat

Any irregularity in the electrical impulses that stimulate heart contractions can cause arrhythmia. Many factors can cause the heart to work improperly, including alcohol abuse; substance use disorder; high blood pressure; diabetes; drinking too much coffee; heart diseases, such as congestive heart failure; hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland; smoking; scarring of the heart due to a heart attack; structural changes in the heart; certain dietary and herbal supplements; some medications; stress;

An individual with good heart health will hardly ever experience chronic arrhythmia unless they have an external trigger, like a substance use disorder or an electric shock.

However, an underlying heart condition can mean that electrical impulses do not go through the heart correctly. This enhances the risk of arrhythmia.

Symptoms of irregular heartbeat

Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat might not cause noticeable symptoms. However, a healthcare provider may detect an arrhythmia during a routine check-up or after requesting an electrocardiogram.

Even if a patient notices symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that they have a severe condition. Some people with life-threatening irregular heartbeat may have no symptoms, while others with symptoms may not have an arrhythmia.

Symptoms depend on the type of irregular heartbeat, as follows:

Symptoms of tachycardia

Symptoms of a rapid heartbeat include dizziness, breathlessness, fluttering in the chest. Light-headedness. Fainting or nearly fainting, chest pain.

Symptoms of bradycardia

Bradycardia can cause angina, chest pain, confusion, dizziness, light-headedness, and shortness of breath, profuse sweating, trouble concentrating, palpitations, fainting, or nearly fainting.

Symptoms of A-fib

When A-fib symptoms occur, they often have a rapid onset and may involve breathlessness, palpitations, weakness, and angina, dizziness, fainting, or nearly fainting.

How long can you live with an irregular heartbeat?

It might be a tricky question for a community or more than one patient suffering from an irregular heartbeat. How long you can live with an irregular heartbeat depends on the severity of the condition.

If you have been diagnosed with a risk-free arrhythmia, you can usually live your life without treatment. But, if your condition is severe, you may face big troubles, even an unexpected death.

This condition directly impacts some crucial organs of your body. If left untreated, your heart may not be able to pump enough blood to body organs and which can damage your brain, compassion, and other body parts. Since organs like the heart and brain are essential for our lives, you may have considerable trouble if they do not function well.

When should I be worried about an irregular heartbeat?

As we mentioned earlier, irregular heartbeat is normal until it does not affect you daily. But you need to take immediate medical help if the condition is affecting you badly. Its severe symptoms that require immediate medical assistance may include weakness, shortness of breath, light-headedness, chest pain and fainting, etc.

What is the best treatment for an irregular heartbeat?

Treatment for an irregular heartbeat is only necessary if the condition increases the risk of more severe arrhythmia or if the symptoms are more powerful.

The various types of arrhythmia require different treatments.

Treatments for bradycardia

If this condition occurs due to an underlying condition, a doctor will first treat that condition. If they find no underlying problem or root cause, the doctor may suggest implanting a pacemaker.

A pacemaker is a device that a doctor places under the skin of the chest or abdomen to control abnormal heart rhythms. A pacemaker uses electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at regular rates.

There are many different treatments for tachycardia:

Medications: They will not cure an arrhythmia but are usually effective in decreasing the number of tachycardia episodes. Some drugs also promote electrical conduction through the heart.

Vagal manoeuvres: Certain movements and exercises that a person can carry out at home might end some types of arrhythmia that begin above the lower half of the heart.

Cardioversion: The professionals may use an electric shock or medication to reset the heart’s rhythm. Implantable Cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): Professionals implant this near the left collarbone. The device then monitors the rhythm of the heart. If it detects a fast rate, it stimulates the heart to return to its average speed.

Ablation therapy: Professionals insert one or more catheters into the inner side of the heart. They place the catheters in areas that doctors suspect may be the source of the irregular heartbeat. The surgeon will then use them to finish small sections of damaged tissue, often correcting the arrhythmia.

Maze procedure: A doctor makes a series of surgical incisions in the heart during the maze procedure. These then heal to scars and form blocks to guide the electrical impulses, helping the heartbeat efficiently.

Coronary bypass surgery: A doctor grafts arteries or veins onto the coronary arteries from elsewhere in the body. This allows the circulation to bypass any regions that have become narrow and enhance the blood supply to the heart muscle.

Conclusion

So, the condition is life-threatening, and even a single mistake can be dangerous. I suggest you not underestimate irregular heartbeats even if they look normal. Take immediate medical help if you are experiencing an irregular heartbeat without a known reason.

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5 thoughts on “How serious is an Irregular Heartbeat?”

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