If you feel that your heart just skipped or added a beat, then take this as a warning sign to visit your doctor soon. Arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythm occurs when your heart beats too slowly, too quickly or irregularly.
The term arrhythmia, means any change from the normal sequence of electrical impulses, these impulses can happen too fast (termed as tachycardia) or too slow (bradycardia). In some cases, you might not even feel your heartbeats as some arrhythmias are silent.
Meanwhile, due to inefficiency of the heart to pump blood to the body, your organs may stop functioning or get damaged and can even shut down in worst cases.
A report by the National Institute of Health (NIH), revealed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to detect irregular heartbeats and other potentially life-threatening problems using electrocardiogram (EKG) readings. You can always combat such diseases when you have little idea about its occurrence. Irregular heart beats diagnosis and cure (in certain cases).
Arrhythmias are divided into two types:
Tachyarrhythmias -In this condition, the heart beats faster than normal. It includes:
Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia
Bradyarrhythmias- Here, the heart beats slower than normal. It includes:
Sick sinus syndrome
Heart block (It may be first, second or third-degree)
Out of all these, Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is one of the common arrhythmias that have trapped 6 million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 9% of people belonging to 65 years and older suffer from AFib, while 2% of adults under 65 years are also affected.
This irregular beating of the heart occurs when the chamber of the heart is basically quivering and not beating in an organized manner.
The most common triggers of atrial fibrillation - an irregular heart rhythm that’s a leading cause of stroke - are avoidable behaviours like drinking alcohol or coffee, cites a recent study (1).
Quick Facts on Arrhythmias
Some arrhythmias have no symptoms or are rather ‘silent’
Common symptoms of arrhythmias include breathlessness, dizziness and heart palpitations
Alcohol, caffeine, exercise and lack of sleep are common triggers of irregular heart rhythm
A slow heartbeat is not a sign of illness
Arrhythmias can be harmless while some can be extremely dangerous and need quick treatment or attention.
Facts about a human heart
A normal heart is a muscular pump that is slightly larger than the fist and pumps continuously through the circulatory system. On average, it beats 100,000 times and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood in the entire body. At the age of 70 years, an average human heart beats more than 2.5 billion times.
The heart needs a spark plug or an electrical impulse to start a heartbeat. These impulses are conducted by the cardiac conduction system, i.e. a group of cells within the heart. Since the heart is a muscle, it contracts with each electrical beat and these electrical system works to make sure that the contractions are well organized.
A beat starts from the right side of the heart and travels through the walls of the heart chambers and ventricles. The His-Purkinje System (HPS) is responsible for the rapid electric conduction in the ventricles for a proper cardiac pump function.
An arrhythmia occurs when the heart doesn’t contract in a synchronized manner. Thus, it is important to listen to your heart closely and when you get an unexpected feeling, consult a doctor right away. Irregular heartbeat treatment is possible if diagnosed early.
Symptoms of tachycardia:
fluttering in the chest, etc.
Symptoms of bradycardia:
trouble in concentrating
difficulty in exercising
Causes of arrhythmias:
excessive intake of alcohol
high amounts of caffeine intake
high blood pressure
hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
dietary supplements and herbal treatments
6 Dos and Don’ts to keep your heart healthy during Arrhythmias:
Monitor your caffeine intake
Try cardio or yoga to stay fit and active
Lose all the extra fat
Get the right amount of sleep (about 7-9 hours)
Bring a change in your lifestyle to keep arrhythmias in check
Consume excess alcohol
Perform exercises that increase your adrenaline (eg: weightlifting)
Rely on diet pills that promise rapid weight loss Lack of sleep can weaken your heart muscle leading to atrial fibrillation (AFib)
Ignore your arrhythmias symptoms
Treatments available for Arrhythmias
Your doctor will set an irregular heartbeat treatment plan if you are diagnosed as clinically significant.
Drugs and therapy treatment depending on how each drug will react and what is best suited for the treatment
Reduce intake of alcohol and caffeine
Living with Arrhythmias
Arrhythmias are mostly harmless and are left untreated. Your doctor needs to find if it is abnormal or just a normal heart process. With this, you will know if are at risk for more serious arrhythmias related complications in the future. The doctor will set you on a treatment plan that may include:
controlling heart rate
restoring normal heart rhythm
preventing blood clots that may lead to stroke (mostly for AfiB patients)
treating heart diseases
prevailing risk factors that can cause serious threat later
All you need to do is take your prescribed medications. Don’t stop taking any medicine without consulting your doctor. In case of side effects, speak to your doctor right away.
Be frank about all the over-the-counter medications, supplements and vitamins that add fuel to the heart disorder.
Keep a close eye on your pulse- especially when you have an artificial cardiac pacemaker that generates electrical impulses. Count your pulse by putting your second and third finger on the inside of the wrist and thumb on the side of your neck below the corner of your jaw. Monitor your pulses and make notes of how you feel.
To keep your heartbeat in check, you need to cut down on:
cough and cold medications
beta-blockers (high blood pressure)
illegal drugs like cocaine, marijuana, etc.
Discuss all your medications with your doctor when you are being treated for arrhythmias.
Untreated arrhythmias can increase your risk for heart attacks, strokes and cardiac arrests. You can control your cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and maintain weight. Eat a heart-healthy diet and engage in physical activities.
Shift towards plant-based food that is low in calories and high in dietary fibres. Munch on fresh, low-sodium canned foods instead of high-calorie foods like meat, cheese and other oily snacks. Always choose low-fat protein like legumes, beans, peas, lentils, etc.
How about creating a daily menu by selecting food for every meal and snack? Your meal should consist of lean protein sources, healthy fats and less salty food. You can allow yourself into the indulgence of a candy bar or a pack of chips occasionally. Make sure you exercise every day to burn out the extra fat.
Pranayam Lung and Heart Institute (PLHI) is the best heart hospital that provides state-of-the-art medical assistance for respiratory and cardiac care services for the past 38 years. It has the latest technology, quality treatment and professional practices that make it a renowned comprehensive healthcare service in Vadodara. We work round the clock to create a healthy society.