The effects of arrhythmia on the body are often the same whether the heartbeat is too fast, too slow or irregular. Some symptoms of arrhythmias include, but are not limited to:
The symptoms of arrhythmias may resemble other conditions, so it is important to talk to your doctor for a diagnosis.
Types of Arrhythmia
There are different kinds of arrhythmia. When the heartbeat is too slow (fewer than 60 beats per minute), it’s called bradycardia or bradyarrhythmia. When the heartbeat is too fast (more than 100 beats a minute), it’s called tachycardia or tachyarrhythmia.
Arrhythmias can occur in the upper chambers (atria) or the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart.
- Atrial arrhythmia – This type is often caused by dysfunction of the sinus node, impulse generating tissue and the heart’s natural pacemaker. It can also be caused by the development of another pacemaker or circuit within the atrium (the upper chamber where blood enters the heart) that takes over the function of the sinus node.
- Ventricular arrhythmia – This type originates from the ventricle (the lower chamber where blood is pushed out of the heart) and takes over for the natural pacemaker. Ventricular arrhythmias can be life-threatening, and immediate medical attention should generally be sought.
- Atrial fibrillation – This is the most common abnormal heart rhythm disorder, when the electrical signals come from the atria at a very fast and erratic rate. The ventricles then contract in an erratic manner because of the erratic signals coming from the atria.
Why is arrhythmia a problem?
The problem with arrhythmia is that the body may not receive enough blood because the heart cannot pump out an adequate amount with each beat.
When the electrical signal is causing the heart to pump too fast, the heart does not get an adequate amount of blood in its chambers.
When the electrical signal is causing the heart to pump too slowly or too irregularly, not enough blood is pumped out to the body from the heart.
Atrial fibrillation is associated with a wide range of symptoms. Some patients experience only a slight decline in endurance, but otherwise have a fairly normal level of daily activity.
Most people with atrial fibrillation, however, endure more incapacitating symptoms, including palpitations, stroke, shortness of breath and significant intolerance of exercise.
Over time, chronic atrial fibrillation leads to permanent changes in your heart. These changes not only diminish the effectiveness of medicines prescribed for atrial fibrillation, but uncontrolled atrial fibrillation may lead to heart failure. Atrial fibrillation also increases your risk of stroke.
Learn more about Atrial Fibrillation Treatments