An irregular rate or rhythm of your heartbeat whether too quickly or too slowly is what we call “Arrhythmia. It has simply categorized into Tachycardia which refers to a fast heart rate (a resting greater than 100 beats a minute). On the other hand, Bradycardia refers to slow heartbeat (a resting heart rate less than 60 beats a minute). Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia, which causes an irregular and fast heartbeat.
Nonetheless, fast or slow heartbeat does not always mean a heart disease. It is normal for people to develop fast heart beat during exercise for supplying more oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. Also, a certain times such as during sleep, heart rate will be slow and still be normal.
Arrhythmias can occur in the upper chambers of the heart, (atria), or in the lower chambers of the heart, (ventricles). It is not harmless in most cases while some are dangerous or even deadly.
Symptoms of Arrhythmias
- Fast or slow heart beat
- Skipping beats
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Arrhythmias are diagnosed based on medical and family histories, a physical exam, and the results from tests and procedures. The usual test involved is EKG to detect and record the heart's electrical activity, showing how fast the heart is beating and its rhythm (steady or irregular). However, it cannot be detected if the symptom is intermittent, so wearing a Holter monitor is advised which records the heart's electrical signals for a full 24- or 48-hour period. For dangerous arrhythmias, an electrophysiological study (EP study) can also be performed to manually stimulate the heart to induce fast heart rhythms, and find out what arrhythmias are possible.
Certain medicines may be prescribed by the doctor to slow a heart that beats too fast or restore a normal heart rhythm. Doctor may suggest cardioversion – a medical procedure that uses electricity to shock the heart through paddles regulating your heartbeat. Common treatment also involves implantable devices like Pacemaker and Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). Pacemaker is a small device placed under the skin in your chest. It uses electrical pulses to stimulate the heart to beat at a normal rate. For the more dangerous fast heartbeat disorders, ICD is implanted to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm whenever needed to prevent cardiac arrest.
You may find our specialist here at Heart Center, Phyathai 2 Hospital
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