Irregular heartbeat, medically known as arrhythmia, is when your heartbeat is either faster or slower than the normal heart rate. Arrhythmia can lead to a pounding or fluttering feeling in the chest, discomfort, breathing difficulties, or chest pain.
Not all arrhythmias are life-threatening however it is better to consult a Cardiologist in Lahore to ensure the severity of the arrhythmia. The reason for this is that some arrhythmias can be a risk factor for a stroke or cardiac arrest.
In this article, we will discuss the different types of arrhythmias and what causes them.
Types of Arrhythmia
There are different types of arrhythmias which can be identified through where they are located in the heart or what changes they cause to the speed of the heart.
The ones located on the lower chambers of the heart known as ventricles are classified as ventricular. On the other hand, those located in the upper chambers of the heart or the atria, they are called supraventricular.
The normal heart rate of a resting heart lies between 60 beats per minute (bpm) to 100 beats per minute (bpm). The abnormal heart rhythm is then, determined by how fast or slow the heart is beating compared to the normal heart rate. This can be shown easily in an EKG.
Based on this, the most common types of arrhythmia are:
● Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
Supraventricular tachycardia is a sudden increase in the heart beats per minute due to abnormal electrical signals in the atria. The heartbeat can go further up from 100 bpm and can last for a few seconds or in some cases, it can last for an hour. This irregularity in the heartbeat categorized can start and end promptly.
● Atrial fibrillation (A-Fib)
The most common arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) can cause an accelerated heartbeat of higher than 100 bpm. This is caused by disorganized electrical impulses causing the upper chambers of the heart to beat faster than usual. It is categorized as supraventricular tachycardia.
● Atrial flutter (AFL)
Atrial flutter is similar to atrial fibrillation however, the atrial fibrillation is more chaotic whereas the atrial flutter occurs at one place making it more organized. Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter can occur together or atrial flutter, if untreated, can lead to atrial fibrillation.
● Ventricular Tachycardia (V-Tach)
A more concerning type of irregular heartbeat is ventricular tachycardia which is a fast heartbeat originating in the ventricles or lower chambers of the heart. This can lead to the heart not pumping blood effectively to the ventricles and making it difficult for the heart to pump blood. If it is not treated, it can be fatal, increasing the risk of stroke or heart failure.
● Ventricular Fibrillation (V-Fib)
Ventricular Fibrillation can be life-threatening as it occurs when the heart rhythm becomes dangerously abnormal. This abnormality is caused by erratic electrical impulses in the ventricles leading to the obstruction of blood flow to the rest of the body. This can be fatal, if not treated quickly.
Bradycardia is a low resting heart rate that is less than the normal heart rate of 60 bpm. Many times bradycardia may not be a serious concern as the resting heart rate can be lower if the heart is pumping blood efficiently. In some cases, if it is presented with other symptoms, it can be concerning as it means that the blood is not pumping properly to your whole body. Bradycardia can also lead to heart block.
● Premature Heartbeats
A premature heartbeat is an extra heartbeat that occurs in the ventricles and causes an abnormal heart rhythm. It can present as a fluttering feeling in your chest making you feel like your heart skipped a beat. It is usually not very serious, but if it is happening regularly, it is better to get it checked.
Causes of Arrhythmias
The causes of arrhythmia range from an individual’s genetics to underlying heart conditions. It can affect people of any age however the risk of heart disease might increase with age. Many of the above-mentioned types of arrhythmias are more commonly seen in people above 50 years of age. Here are some common causes of arrhythmia:
● Coronary heart disease
● Heart attack
● High blood pressure
● Hormone imbalance
● Electrolytes imbalance
● Congenital heart disorders
● Excessive use of drugs, alcohol, nicotine or caffeine
● Emotional issues such as stress and anxiety
● Recovery that from a heart surgery
Are you at Risk of Arrhythmia?
If you’re experiencing any of the above, it is a possibility that you can have arrhythmia. From genetics to lifestyle, anything can affect your heart. Activities such as exercising can also increase your heart rate but that doesn’t mean that you need to get checked for it. Although, if the irregularity presents itself with other symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, or weakness, it is better to consult a Cardiologist in Karachi or an experienced heart specialist near your vicinity.