A Sneaky Killer: The Many Causes of Heart Rhythm Disorders
Also called Arrhythmias, irregular heartbeats are experienced by millions of adults. That’s because these can happen even to those who don’t have any heart health issues. Though such heart rhythm disorders can be harmless most of the time, many people also experience abnormal heartbeats – this is something serious and can also prove to be a deadly disease.
So if you are suffering from a heart condition without even knowing about it, negligence can increase your risk of having arrhythmias. But instead of worrying about it, it’s always better to gain some important knowledge about arrhythmias, its categories, and causes.
Below is a list of various heart rhythm disorders and what causes them.
Also called AFib, this one is quite common. Because of disorganized signals, the heartbeat is rapid and irregular. Though it’s not life threatening, people suffering from this disorder have higher chances of having a stroke. However, AFib can be treated with the help of electrophysiology. Since arrhythmias condition is unique in each person’s body, only the specialists in this field can identify the level and sources of arrhythmias in your body. To get more information on this, visit www.abbottep.com.
Atrial Flutter (AFL)
This is similar to atrial fibrillation. However, there’s a noticeable difference: it’s caused by an electrical wave which circulates at a highly rapid speed in your atrium – this is about three-hundred times in a single minute. This causes steady but very fast heartbeat. Some causes of AFL include smoking, high-blood pressure, lung disease, stress, anxiety, etc.
Sick Sinus Syndrome (SSS)
Though this isn’t considered a disease, it shows signs that your heart’s natural pacemaker is not functioning properly. In this situation, you may experience slow as well as fast heartbeats.
Considered a harmless rhythm, this is an increase in your heart beat which doesn’t require any treatment unless you’re suffering from a medical condition such as anemia or hyperthyroidism. Its causes include exercise, excitement, or fever.
Ventricular Tachycardia (VT)
This is a life-threatening disease that’s usually diagnosed with other serious heart issues. However, sometimes it may happen even with healthy hearts. Since VT can cause a disorganized and dangerously fast heartbeat, it’s a serious heart condition that requires immediate treatment along with follow up.
Ventricular Fibrillation (VF)
This causes a chaotic and fast heartbeat that leads the lower ventricles or heart chambers to spasm. VF is not a heart attack. It’s a sudden and dangerous heart condition because it just happens without any symptoms/warning while stopping the heart from functioning. Though CPR can be useful, the most helpful VF treatment is to use electrodes or paddles to “shock” the patient’s heart so that it can regain a regular/normal rhythm. This treatment is also called defibrillation. It’s extremely important to save a life because without it, people with VF die suddenly.
Long QT Syndrome (LQTS)
This is a disorder in the electrical system. People with this kind of heart problem have higher risks of VF – the most dangerous of all heart rhythm disorders and this can even cause sudden death. Its cause can be through intake of specific medications, or it can be inherited.
This happens when the electrical signals of the heart’s upper chambers can’t travel to its lower chambers. That’s why the heartbeat slows down. This decreases the level of oxygen getting to the brain and the body.
This can be caused by extreme heartbeat disorders and should, therefore, be checked carefully. The cause may not necessarily be heart-related (such as low level of blood sugar) but still, you should consult a doctor immediately.
Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
When heart arteries are highly clogged, the blood flowing to the heart is either stopped or reduced – thus causing a heart attack. Though causes and symptoms vary, knowing these and getting emergency treatment can prevent or limit the damage to the heart muscle.
Also called brain attacks, strokes occur when the blood flow stops or reduces while entering the brain. However, irregular heart rhythms like atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation can cause a blood clot to form in the patient’s heart. This blood clot can also be one of the causes of a stroke if it travels to the brain. Nevertheless, all strokes reflect serious medical conditions.
This occurs when the muscle of the heart is too weak to pump blood effectively throughout the body. Causes are similar to heart attack.
Heart Valve Problems
These can either be inherited or develop naturally. Such problems affect the level of blood flow among heart chambers. Surgery and medication are some treatment options.
The Bottom Line
You might think that a missed heartbeat can be a normal phenomenon. Though this can be true, matters of heart rhythm should always be taken seriously. If you experience an irregular heartbeat, consult a certified doctor immediately.
In case you are diagnosed with a heart problem related to Arrhythmias, be proactive in taking recommendations from your doctor. Perhaps, making just a few lifestyle changes could get your heart rhythm to normal. If not, then seeking medical treatment should be done immediately.
Freddie Law is a medical student who plans to enter the field of cardiology. Always on the quest for knowledge, Freddie shares his thoughts and findings online in his articles.