Arrhythmias

Arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms that can occur when the electrical impulses in the heart that coordinate heartbeats are not functioning properly. The heart may beat too quickly (tachycardia), too slowly (bradycardia), or irregularly. Arrhythmias can range from harmless to life-threatening and can occur in anyone, regardless of age or health.

Some common types of arrhythmias include:

  1. Atrial fibrillation (AFib): This is the most common type of arrhythmia, characterized by irregular and often rapid heartbeats originating in the atria (upper chambers) of the heart.
  2. Ventricular fibrillation (VFib): This is a serious arrhythmia where the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles) quiver irregularly instead of pumping blood effectively. It’s a medical emergency and can lead to cardiac arrest if not treated immediately.
  3. Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT): This is a rapid heart rate that starts in the atria or AV node (a part of the heart’s electrical system).
  4. Bradycardia: This refers to a slow heart rate, typically below 60 beats per minute. It can be normal in some individuals, such as athletes, but may require treatment if it causes symptoms like dizziness or fainting.
  5. Premature contractions: These are early or extra heartbeats that occur before the next regular heartbeat. They’re often harmless but can sometimes indicate an underlying heart condition.

Arrhythmias can be caused by various factors, including heart disease, high blood pressure, electrolyte imbalances, medications, stimulants like caffeine or nicotine, stress, and genetic factors. Treatment for arrhythmias depends on the type, severity, and underlying cause but may include medication, lifestyle changes, medical procedures (such as catheter ablation), or implanted devices like pacemakers or defibrillators.

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