In a typical heartbeat, a tiny cluster of cells in the sinus node sends out electrical signals that travel through the atria to the atrioventricular node and then pass into the ventricles, which causes the heart to contract and pump blood.
Heart arrhythmia is the disorder of the heart in which the heartbeats are irregular. A heart arrhythmia occurs when the electric signals responsible for coordinating the heart's beats do not work properly. This faulty signaling causes the heart to beat too fast (tachycardia) too slow (bradycardia) or irregular rhythms. Heart arrhythmia may feel like a racing heart. While it is often harmless, sometimes it can cause complications, which can even be life-threatening.
Types of heart arrhythmia
Heart arrhythmias can be grouped into two broad categories:
Tachycardia - the condition of the heart in which the heart beats fast at a rate of more than 100 beats per minute.
Bradycardia - the condition of the heart in which it beats slower than 60 beats per minute.
Tachycardia and bradycardia can be further divided into categories according to the irregularities in the heartbeat.
Types of tachycardia
Rapid, uncoordinated heart rate causes Atrial fibrillation episodes which if left untreated, may cause serious complications such as stroke.
Atrial flutter is a more organized form of Atrial fibrillation and is also linked to stroke.
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT):
Supraventricular tachycardia includes arrhythmias beginning with the lower heart chamber (ventricle) and causes episodes of pounding heart (palpitations) that end abruptly.
When rapid, chaotic electrical signals cause lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) to quiver instead of contracting in a coordinated way, it is known as Ventricular fibrillation. If not treated, it can be fatal within minutes. Most people suffering from ventricular fibrillation have been subjected to underlying heart disease or have experienced serious trauma.
Faulty electrical signals from the ventricles cause rapid, irregular heart rhythms which do not allow blood to be filled in the ventricles properly. Ventricular tachycardia may not be problematic for otherwise healthy patients but may become fatal in patients with heart diseases.
Types of bradycardia
Sick sinus syndrome:
The sinus node in the heart is responsible for sending electrical signals across the heart. Faulty signalling may cause the heart to beat too fast or too slow. Scarring in the sinus tissue is responsible for slowing, disrupting, or blocking signals to travel from the node.
Blockage in the electrical pathways can cause a slowdown of heartbeats or stop entirely.
Symptoms of arrhythmias
In some patients, arrhythmias may cause no signs and symptoms at all. A doctor might notice irregular heartbeats while examining for some other health problem. However, there are some common symptoms observed in patients which can be enumerated as follows:
Faster or slower heartbeat than usual
Shortness of breath
Palpitations (rapid pounding, fluttering)
Chest pain (angina)
What health complications arise from arrhythmias?
Complications depend on the type of arrhythmia developed. In general, if left untreated, arrhythmia complications include heart stroke, sudden death, and heart failure. Blood clots may also form due to a heart arrhythmia, which may travel from the heart to the brain and cause a brain stroke.
Diagnosis of arrhythmias
At CARE Hospitals, our well-trained staff will help you through the process of diagnosis, ask you about your medical history, review risk factors and recommend the proper diagnostic procedure. We provide the following diagnostic services:
The electrocardiogram test records the electrical activity of the heart and can detect heart attack and heart rhythm problems.
Cardiac catheterization, also cardiac angiogram, is an invasive diagnostic test for imaging the coronary arteries using small tubes to evaluate the heart functions, including the presence of coronary artery disease.
Cardiac CT scan
Computed tomography (CT) scan is a non-invasive imaging method using X-ray for creating a detailed image of the heart and the blood vessels.
Treatments of arrhythmias
Treatments offered at CARE Hospitals for arrhythmias include the use of medications and surgical procedures to restore or correct heart rhythms. The treatments for the following cardiac ailments are provided:
Arrhythmia - Heart rhythm problems causing too fast or too slow heartbeats per minute.
Atrial fibrillation - Rapid and irregular heartbeat leading to blood clots.
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) - Episodes of pounding randomly, arising from the left ventricle of the heart that ends abruptly.
At CARE Hospitals, the following procedures are done for the above mentioned cardiac ailments:
Cardioversion - This method of treatment includes electric shock therapy delivered through paddles or patches attached to the chest. The shock affects the electric impulses of the heart and sets the rhythm right.
Pacemaker - A small electric device implanted near the collarbone. If the heartbeats are too fast or too slow, the pacemaker sends electric impulses to stimulate the heart to beat at a normal rhythm.
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) - An ICD is an electrical device, much like a pacemaker, that continuously monitors the heart rhythm and sends out low or high energy electric shocks to restore normal heart rhythm on detecting abnormalities. We may recommend an ICD implant if a patient is at risk of developing irregular heartbeat rhythms or has already suffered from a heart attack or cardiac arrest.
Coronary bypass surgery - If a patient has arrhythmia along with some other coronary artery diseases, a doctor may recommend coronary bypass surgery to improve blood flow to the heart.
How can CARE Hospitals help?
At CARE Hospitals, we provide comprehensive diagnostic services in the field of cardiology using state-of-the-art equipment and technology. Our well trained multidisciplinary staff support will provide assistance and care during the postoperative recovery period and out-of-hospital support for all your queries and cardiac problems. CARE Hospitals advanced and modern minimally invasive surgical procedures will help improve your quality of life.
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