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Arrhythmias (All Forms)

Heart rhythm problems, known as arrhythmias, occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeats don’t work properly, causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.

Types of arrhythmias:

  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Atrial flutter
  • Supraventricular tachycardia
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Long QTsSyndrome
  • Atrial tachycardia
  • Brugada syndrome
  • Sick sinus syndrome
  • Conduction block
  • Vasovagal syncope
  • Chronotropic incompetence

Certain conditions can lead to, or cause, an arrhythmia, including:

  • A heart attack that’s occurring right now
  • Scarring of heart tissue from a prior heart attack
  • Changes to your heart’s structure, such as from cardiomyopathy
  • Blocked arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease)
  • High blood pressure
  • Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)
  • Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea

Other things that can cause an arrhythmia include:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
  • Drug abuse
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Certain medications and supplements, including over-the-counter cold and allergy drugs and nutritional supplements
  • Genetics

Signs & Symptoms

Some arrhythmias may not cause any signs or symptoms while others cause frequent symptoms, including:

  • A fluttering in your chest
  • A racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • A slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Sweating
  • Fainting (syncope) or near fainting
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis

To diagnose a heart arrhythmia, a Deborah physician will review the patient’s symptoms and medical history and conduct a physical examination. The doctor may ask about — or test for — conditions that may trigger an arrhythmia, such as heart disease or a problem with the thyroid gland. The doctor may also perform heart-monitoring tests specific to arrhythmias. These may include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Holter monitor
  • Event recorder
  • Echocardiogram
  • Implantable loop recorder

If the doctor doesn’t find an arrhythmia during those tests, he or she may try to trigger an arrhythmia with other tests, including:

  • Stress test
  • Tilt table test
  • Electrophysiological testing and mapping