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What is Arrhythmia? What Causes Arrhythmia?

An arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat - the heart may beat too fast (tachycardia), too slowly (bradycardia), too early (premature contraction) or too irregularly (fibrillation). Arrhythmias are heart-rhythm problems - they occur when the electrical impulses to the heart that coordinate heartbeats are not working properly, making the heart beat too fast/slow or inconsistently.

Many heart arrhythmias are harmless. We all occasionally experience irregular heartbeats, which may feel like a racing heart or fluttering. Some arrhythmias, however, especially if they veer too far from a normal heartbeat or result from a weak or damaged heart, may cause troublesome and even potentially fatal symptoms.

Rapid arrhythmias are called tachycardias, while slow ones are called bradycardias. Irregular arrhythmias - when the heartbeat is irregular - are called fibrillations, as in a trial or ventricular fibrillation. When a single heartbeat occurs earlier than it should it is called premature contraction.

What are the signs and symptoms of arrhythmia?

Some patients may have no symptoms at all. A doctor may detect a sign of arrhythmia during a routine examination. (The patient detects/feels a symptom, and other people, such as the doctor or other members of the household, detect a sign).

Even if a patient notices symptoms, it does not necessarily mean there is a serious problem. Ironically, some patients with life-threatening arrhythmias may have no symptoms, while others with symptoms may not have a serious problem.

Symptoms of tachycardia include :
(Sometimes there are no symptoms)

  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Syncope (fainting, or near-fainting)
  • Fluttering in the chest
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sudden weakness

Symptoms of tachycardia include :
(Sometimes there are no symptoms)

  • Angina (Chest Pain)
  • Concentration Problems
  • Confusion
  • Difficulties when exercising
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue (Tiredness)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Syncope (fainting or near-fainting)
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