What is an Arrhythmia?

An arrhythmia is an abnormality in the heart’s rhythm, or heartbeat pattern. Examples include:

  • Heartbeats that are too slow (bradycardia)
  • Heartbeats that are too fast (tachycardia)
  • Extra heartbeats
  • Skipped heartbeats
  • Beats coming from abnormal areas of the heart

Arrhythmia Symptoms

While some arrhythmias may occur without the patient’s knowledge, others may cause noticeable symptoms, such as:

  • Fainting
  • Dizziness, sensation of light-headedness
  • Sensation of heart fluttering (palpitations)
  • Sensation of an extra or skipped heartbeat
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Arrhythmia Causes

Cardiac arrhythmias can occur in patients of any age. Some patients have arrhythmias that pose no danger to their health, but an arrhythmia can also indicate heart disease. An arrhythmia may also lead to congestive heart failure, serious heart problems and/or stroke.

Causes of heart arrhythmias are varied, but include:

  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Irregular thyroid function

Types of Arrhythmia

  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
  • Atrial flutter
  • Inappropriate sinus tachycardia
  • Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
  • Ventricular tachycardia (VT)
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

Understanding the complexities of arrhythmias and available treatments can be daunting. Rocky Mountain Heart Rhythm Institute continues to promote awareness and education about arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation and other cardiac complications.