Heart Rhythm Disorders

A vast number of individuals encounter irregular or abnormal heart rhythms, known as arrhythmias.It occurs when the electrical signals that control the heartbeat are disrupted, causing the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly. Arrhythmias can be harmless or life-threatening, depending on the underlying cause and severity.

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)

A supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is an abnormally fast heart rhythm arising from the top chambers of the heart. It can be due to an abnormal cell firing electrical impulses or an extra electrical pathway that results in a short-circuit. This fast heart rhythm can come and go suddenly and can last from a few minutes to a few days. Patients with this condition can feel palpitations – sensation of fast heartbeat, fluttering or pounding in the chest or neck, weakness or lethargy, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, light-headedness or even fainting spells.

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)

Atrial fibrillation/flutter (AF/AFL)

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an abnormal, irregular and chaotic rhythm caused by random electrical impulses that is firing in the upper chambers of the heart. Atrial flutter is (AFL) is an abnormal heart rhythm that is going around in a circuit in the upper chambers of the heart. Patients with this condition can feel palpitations – sensation of fast heartbeat, fluttering or pounding in the chest or neck, weakness or lethargy, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, light-headedness or even fainting spells. AF/AFL predisposes a patient to formation of blood clots in the upper chambers of the heart, thereby increasing the risk of stroke. It also increases the risk of heart failure.

Atrial Fibrillation

Premature atrial or ventricular contractions (PACs/PVCs)

Premature atrial contractions (PACs) are extra heartbeats that originate from the different site in the upper chambers of the heart while premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are extra heartbeats that originate from the bottom chambers of the heart. PACs/PVCs can cause symptoms of palpitations – sensation of fast heartbeat, fluttering or pounding in the chest or neck, weakness or lethargy, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, light-headedness or even fainting spells.

This is often a benign condition. In some cases, however, it may be a manifestation of an underlying heart condition. If the burden of PACs is high, it may lead to atrial fibrillation which can increase the risk of stroke. If the burden of the PVCs is high, it may cause weakening of the heart function or heart failure.

Premature Atrial or Ventricular Contractions

Ventricular tachycardia (VT)

Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is an abnormal fast heart rhythm arising from the bottom chambers of the heart. It can be due to an abnormal cell firing electrical impulses or an abnormal electrical pathway formed from heart muscle damage that results in a short-circuit. This rapid heart rhythm often prevents the heart chambers from properly filling with blood and hence, the heart will not be able to pump enough blood to the body. If this happens, you may feel short of breath, light-headedness or even lose consciousness.

In severe cases, this abnormal rhythm can be life threatening, degenerating into an extremely chaotic rhythm called Ventricular Fibrillation (VF), causing the heart to stop – cardiac arrest.

Ventricular Tachycardia

Living with arrhythmia can be a challenging experience, as the condition can cause a range of symptoms and complications that can impact daily life.

Depending on the severity and type of arrhythmia, individuals may experience palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness, chest pain, or fainting. These symptoms can be unpredictable and disruptive, making it difficult to engage in daily activities and maintain a regular routine. In some cases, individuals may also need to take medications or undergo procedures to manage their condition.

Despite these challenges, with proper treatment and management, many people with arrhythmia are able to lead full and active lives. It’s important for individuals with arrhythmia to work closely with their doctor to develop a treatment plan that meets their unique needs and goals.

The diagnosis for an arrhythmia often weighs on getting an electrocardiogram (ECG) at the time of it occurring. There are wearable gadgets such as Holter or watches with ECG function that increases the chance of catching the arrhythmia. In certain cases, an Electrophysiology Study (EPS) may be recommended to diagnose the arrhythmia.

Treatment for arrhythmia depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. In some cases, lifestyle changes such as reducing caffeine or alcohol intake, quitting smoking, and reducing stress can help manage symptoms. Medications such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and anti-arrhythmic drugs may also be prescribed to control heart rate and rhythm. In certain cases, a Catheter Ablation (CA) procedure may be recommended to eradicate the arrhythmia.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of arrhythmia, it’s important to consult a doctor as soon as possible to determine the underlying cause and best course of treatment.

With proper management, most people with arrhythmia are able to lead full and active lives. Speak to us to find out how we can support and help you or your loved one in their recovery from arrhythmia.

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