Arrhythmia

By: Sarah, Kennedy, Maria, and Kimberly

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What is Arrhythmia?

Arrhythmia can be defined as having an irregular heartbeat- this doesn't mean it beating too fast or too slow, just out of it's normal rhythm. It can feel like your heart skipped a beat, added a beat (called fluttering), or you might not notice any change, since some arrhythmias are "silent." Arrhythmia could be caused by a history of heart disease, an imbalance of electrolytes, injury from a heart attack, or can occur even when a heart is healthy. Other symptoms include palpitations, pounding on your chest, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, or chest pain.

Diagnosis

Tests commonly used to diagnose arrhythmia include:
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Holter monitor
  • Event monitor
  • Stress test
  • Echocardiogram
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Electrophysiology study
  • Head-up tilt table test

Treatment

Some arrhythmias are considered harmless and aren' treated. However, if an arrhythmia is considered a threat, your doctor will set a treatment plan.


Goals for treatment include:



  • Prevent blood clots from forming to reduce stroke risk
  • Control your heart rate within a relatively normal range
  • Restore a normal heart rhythm, if possible
  • Treat heart disease/condition that may be causing arrhythmia
  • Reduce other risk factors for heart disease and stroke


Standard treatment for arrhythmia means taking medication and closely monitoring your pulse. It also means avoiding certain substances like caffeine and tobacco, and managing other risk factors such as reducing cholesterol.

Prevention

To prevent arrhythmia, you should live a heart-heathy life, meaning:

  1. Stopping smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
  2. Maintaining a healthy weight
  3. Eating a healthful, balanced, low-fat diet
  4. Limiting or avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and other substances that contribute to heart problems
  5. Exercising regularly