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By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

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What Is Arrhythmias

The term “arrhythmia” describes a chance in the proper sequence linked to electrical impulses. Due to the fact that these may happen too slowly, erratically, or too fast, it determines an irregular beating of the heart. Unfortunately, when the heart doesn’t function effectively, the brains, lungs, as well as the rest of the organs don’t receive sufficient blood; they are damaged and will eventually shut down.

The average daily heart beats, including both contractions and expansions, around one hundred thousand times, and the blood that is being pumped is somewhere around two thousand gallons. For instance, in a seventy-year lifespan, an average heart will beat more than two and a half billion times.
While some arrhythmias are brief and represented by a premature beat or a temporary pause, there are the ones which last longer and determine the heart to slow down, thus representing a danger for the individual.


In order for the heart to properly function, the electrical impulses that determine its contraction have to follow a specific pathway, thus any type of interruption may end up as an arrhythmia. The heart possesses four chambers that situate on each half of the organ in order to provide two adjoining pumps. Therefore, there are two atriums or upper chambers and two ventricles or lower chambers.

The process is as follows: the right atrium contracts due to some impulses from groups of cells in the right atrium. After the contraction, the electrical impulses move towards the atriventricular node which situates in the center of the organ. As soon as they reach the atriventricular node, the impulses leave towards the ventricules which determines their contraction which as a result pumps blood in the entire organism.

On average, the normal person has a heart rate between sixty and one hundred beats per minute.

However, some outside factors like diabetes, alcohol abuse, excessive consumption of coffee, drug abuse, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, mental stress, heart diseases, heart attacks, smoking, or certain medication may interfere with the normal functioning of the heart and imbalance the electrical impulses. Additionally, there are other potential reasons for developing arrhythmias which include old age, obesity, and sleep apnea. Unfortunately, in some cases it can’t be avoided, particularly if there is a genetic disposition of the patient for this medical condition.

Signs & Symptoms

There are four types of arrhythmia which depend on the way the heart beats have been influenced. Hence, tachycardia is the term used to describe too fast heart beats, bradycardia for too slow, premature contraction for too early, and fibrillation for too irregular.

People should know that even though some of the symptoms for arrhythmia may be experienced, it doesn’t mean there is a serious problem. Furthermore, in the majority of cases, people that suffer from arrhythmias that are life-threatening generally experience no symptoms while others which have a less serious condition may have all of them.

For example, symptoms linked to tachycardia include dizziness, breathlessness, chest-fluttering, sudden weakness, lightheadedness, fainting, and near-fainting while those linked to bradycardia feature concentration issues, confusion, angina, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, palpitations, and fatigue. When it comes to atrial fibrillation, individuals should know that related symptoms usually develop fast-paced and are breathlessness, dizziness, syncope, angina, palpitations, and weakness.

Diagnosis Arrhythmias

In order to properly diagnose arrhythmias, a person should consult a personal doctor. The diagnosis is generally based on the family and medical history followed by physical exams and in certain cases, results from various procedures or tests. Regrettably, most of the arrhythmias remain undiscovered due to the lack of symptoms and usually cause damage effects on the organism, sometimes even leading to the sudden death of the patient.

The doctors who are specialized in this manner, thus representing the best choice for a person who suspects he has this condition, are the cardiologist, pediatric cardiologist and electrophysiologists. The family’s medical history relies on whether members of the patient’s family had an arrhythmia history, suffered from any type of heart conditions, had high blood pressure or died suddenly.

During the physical exam, the doctor usually listens to the rhythm of the heart, checks the patient’s pulse, checks for swellings in the feet and legs, looks for signs linked to other diseases like thyroid because it may be the actual reason behind the problem and seeks for a heart murmur which is either an extra or an unusual heart sound. In order to facilitate the work of the doctor and make sure the diagnosis is correctly put, the individual should try to be as honest as possible during the questioning and try to pay attention while the physical exam takes place.

Treatment for Arrhythmias

There is a wide variety of treatments for irregular heartbeats. From medication to surgical intervention, over-the-counter supplements, and simple exercising, suggested cures may vary depending on the stage of the condition and potential risks for bodily damage.

For instance, a person may use medicine that slow down the heart in cases in which it’s beating too fast. In addition, this type of drugs may modify an abnormal heart rhythm to a steady one. They’re called antiarrhythmics. On the other hand, the drugs utilized for spending the heart rhythm are named beta-blockers and include atenolol and metoprolol. Within the medicine commonly used to treat this type of medical condition, there are flecainide, dofetilide, sotalol, ibutilide, procainamide, quinidine, and disopyramide. So far, there is no actual medication that can effectively affect slow heart beats, hence it is usually treated with the help of pacemakers.

Other medical procedures whose purpose is treating arrhythmias include cardioversion, implantable cardioventer defibrillator, cather ablation, and transesophageal echocardiography. However, these procedures are only ordered if the prescribed medication doesn’t work or if the drugs have side-effects or aren’t well-received by the organism.

For less dangerous arrhythmias, there are other types of treatments which can be used. For instance, vagal maneuvers which are a series of exercises that can either slow-down of stop the heart beats. These include holding of the breath, coughing, gagging, and immersing the face in cold water.

Additionally, certain dietary supplements may also help with this condition by enhancing the quality of the heart. Some of them feature ingredients such as magnesium which helps through relaxation, hawthorn, CoQ10, and apple cider vinegar. It is however important to properly choose the daily intake of the supplement in order to maximize the effects of the usage and avoid potential side-effects. A personal healthcare provider should be taken into account as well.