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COMPLETE AND COMPREHENSIVE Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia

What is Arrhythmia?

Arrhythmia refers to the irregular beating of the heart which may feel like your heart skipped a beat, added a beat or is fluttering. A normal heart beats about 60 to 100 times per minute depending on the activity levels of the individual. However, due to problems with the cardiac conduction system, the rhythm of the heart becomes abnormal.

Arrhythmias can be harmless or may cause an emergency. In case you are frequently experiencing abnormal heart rhythms, get in touch with us to consult with the best cardiac specialist. 

What are the types of Arrhythmia?

The types of arrhythmias are divided based on the area of origin and the rate at which the heart beats. If the arrhythmia begins in the ventricles or lower chambers of the heart, they’re known as ventricular arrhythmia. If the condition arises in the atria or upper chambers, they’re called supraventricular. 

In addition, the doctors also classify the arrhythmia types based on the speed of the heart rate. In bradycardia, the heart rate is fewer than 60 beats per minute whereas, in Tachycardia, the heart beats at 100 beats per minute. 

Supraventricular arrhythmias types are as follows -

  • Premature atrial contractions 
  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
  • Atrial flutter
  • Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)
  • Accessory pathway tachycardias
  • AV nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT)

Ventricular arrhythmias types include the following - 

  • Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)
  • Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach)
  • Ventricular fibrillation (V-fib)
  • Long QT syndrome

Bradyarrhythmia types are classified into the following - 

  • Sinus node dysfunction
  • Heart block

What are the symptoms of Arrhythmia?

Arrhythmia symptoms can be silent and may not cause major concern. The doctor may examine your pulse and perform diagnostic tests to determine the cause of heart palpitations. Arrhythmia signs include the following - 

  • Palpitations
  • Pounding in your chest
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Fainting
  • Breathing issues
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Weakness or fatigue

What are the causes of Arrhythmia?

An arrhythmia occurs when the electrical signals that coordinate the heartbeats are not functioning properly. Most arrhythmias do not cause major problems but if the primary cause is due to a medical condition, then it may require medical attention. Arrhythmia causes include the following - 

  • Heart disease
  • Problems with the electrical signals in the heart
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Injury due to a heart attack
  • Electrolyte imbalances in your blood, such as sodium or potassium imbalances
  • Changes in the heart's structure (such as from cardiomyopathy)
  • The recovery process after the heart surgery
  • Irritable tissues in the heart (due to genetic or acquired causes)
  • High blood pressure
  • Valve disorders
  • Other medical conditions
  • Certain medications
  • Excess consumption of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, or exercise

How is Arrhythmia diagnosed?

Arrhythmia is often confused with other heart conditions due to the similarities in the symptoms. The doctor generally does a physical examination to check your vitals and analyse the condition. Moreover, the doctor also asks about the medical history and recommends diagnostic tests. Arrhythmia diagnosis often includes the following tests - 

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • Holter monitor
  • Event recorder
  • Echocardiogram
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Implantable loop recorder
  • Stress test
  • Tilt table test
  • Electrophysiological study (EPS)

What are the different treatment methods for arrhythmia?

Arrhythmia treatment differs based on the type and severity of the condition. Mild symptoms may be managed by medications which treat uneven heart rhythms. Different treatment methods for arrhythmia include the following - 

  • Medications - The doctor recommends trials of certain drugs and medications to find the one that works effectively. Most of these medicines control heart rate, reduce the risk of heart strokes or clot formation, and treat conditions related to arrhythmic heartbeat. Arrhythmia treatment includes medications such as - 
    • Adenosine
    • Atropine
    • Beta-blockers
    • Calcium channel blockers
    • Digoxin
    • Potassium channel blockers
    • Sodium channel blockers
  • Therapies - Therapies are effective in managing a fluttering heartbeat by targeting the nervous system. The doctor may recommend holding your breath and straining, putting your face in ice water, or coughing to control arrhythmia. Other therapies involve delivering a shock to the heart through paddles or patches on the chest to restore the normal rhythm. Therapies for arrhythmia include-
    • Vagal manoeuvres
    • Cardioversion
  • Surgical methods - Surgical procedures are recommended for types of arrhythmia caused due to medical conditions which can cause serious medical emergencies. The doctor may insert certain implants or devices during the procedure to treat serious cases of arrhythmia. Here are some procedures and implants that can be used to effectively treat arrhythmia - 
    • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
    • Catheter ablation
    • Pacemaker
    • Maze procedure
    • Coronary bypass surgery

How can I prevent Arrhythmia?

Arrhythmia can be prevented by making lifestyle changes and going for regular checkups with the doctor. Be sure to take all medications and consult the doctor if you experience frequent arrhythmia signs and symptoms. Arrhythmia prevention includes the following steps -

  • Maintaining a balanced diet. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can increase the health of the heart
  • Quit smoking and consuming tobacco products
  • Limit your alcohol consumption
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Beware of stimulants used in cough and cold medications that can cause irregular heartbeats
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Get a good sleep
  • Keep a healthy weight by being physically active
  • Manage stress
  • Keep a check with your doctor regarding your heart health

FAQs

What are the complications of prolonged heart arrhythmia?

Complications of prolonged heart arrhythmia can lead to the following - 

  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Cardiac arrest

Are all cases of arrhythmias dangerous?

An arrhythmia can be silent and not cause any significant health issues. However, in severe cases, arrhythmia can cause serious heart conditions which can lead to cardiac arrest, heart failure, etc. Consult a medical professional in case you are experiencing arrhythmia symptoms. 

What is the ICD-10 code for cardiac arrhythmia?

The ICD-10 code for cardiac arrhythmia is 149.9 which is a medical classification listed by WHO. 

Can arrhythmia be cured naturally?

Mild to moderate symptoms of arrhythmia is often associated with oxidant stress and inflammation. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E are effective in reducing mild arrhythmia symptoms. However, in severe cases, the doctor may recommend therapies or implants depending on the cause of the arrhythmia. 

How is arrhythmia cured?

Arrhythmia treatment includes a combination of medicines, therapies and using implants depending on the type and severity of the condition. The doctor may cure arrhythmia by recommending the following - 

  • Medications
  • Vagal manoeuvres
  • Cardioversion
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
  • Catheter ablation
  • Pacemaker
  • Maze procedure
  • Coronary bypass surgery

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