An arrhythmia is a disorder of the heart rate (pulse) or heart rhythm. The heart can beat too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregularly.
An arrhythmia can be harmless, a sign of other heart problems, or an immediate danger to your health.
Abnormal heart rhythms; Bradycardia; Tachycardia; Fibrillation
Normally, your heart works as a pump that brings blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.
To help this happen, your heart has an electrical system that makes sure it contracts (squeezes) in an orderly way.
Arrhythmias are caused by problems with the heart's electrical conduction system.
Some common causes of abnormal heartbeats are:
Arrhythmias may also be caused by some substances or drugs, including:
Some of the more common abnormal heart rhythms are:
When you have an arrhythmia, your heartbeat may be:
An arrhythmia may be present all of the time or it may come and go. You may or may not feel symptoms when the arrhythmia is present. Or, you may only notice symptoms when you are more active.
Symptoms can be very mild, or they may be severe or even life threatening.
Common symptoms that may occur when the arrhythmia is present could include:
When an arrhythmia is serious, you may need urgent treatment to restore a normal rhythm. This may include:
Sometimes, better treatment for your angina or heart failure will lower your chance of having an arrhythmia.
Medicines called anti-arrhythmic drugs may be used:
Some of these medicines can have side effects. Take them as prescribed by your provider. DO NOT stop taking the medicine or change the dose without first talking to your provider.
Other treatments to prevent or treat abnormal heart rhythms include:
Michael Gold is a Cardiac Electrophysiologist and a Cardiologist in Charleston, South Carolina. Dr. Gold has been practicing medicine for over 37 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Arrhythmias. He is also highly rated in 34 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Arrhythmias, Atrial Fibrillation, Heart Failure, and Cardiomyopathy. He is licensed to treat patients in South Carolina. Dr. Gold is currently accepting new patients.
Antony Chu is a Cardiac Electrophysiologist and a Cardiologist in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Dr. Chu has been practicing medicine for over 20 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Arrhythmias. He is also highly rated in 23 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Atrial Fibrillation, Arrhythmias, Ventricular Tachycardia, and Cardiomyopathy. He is licensed to treat patients in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Dr. Chu is currently accepting new patients.
Kenneth Bilchick is a Cardiac Electrophysiologist and a Cardiologist in Fishersville, Virginia. Dr. Bilchick has been practicing medicine for over 23 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Arrhythmias. He is also highly rated in 30 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Heart Failure, Arrhythmias, Ventricular Tachycardia, and Atrial Fibrillation. He is licensed to treat patients in Maryland and Virginia. Dr. Bilchick is currently accepting new patients.
The outcome depends on several factors:
Call your provider if:
Taking steps to prevent coronary artery disease may reduce your chance of developing an arrhythmia.
Published Date : July 07, 2020
Published By : Thomas S. Metkus, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
Al-Khatib SM, Stevenson WG, Ackerman MJ, et al. 2017 AHA/ACC/HRS guideline for management of patients with ventricular arrhythmias and the prevention of sudden cardiac death: Executive summary: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. Heart Rhythm. 2018;15(10):e190-e252. PMID: 29097320 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29097320/.
Olgin JE. Approach to the patient with suspected arrhythmia. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 56.
Tomaselli GF, Rubart M, Zipes DP. Mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 34.
Tracy CM, Epstein AE, Darbar D, et al. 2012 ACCF/AHA/HRS focused update of the 2008 guidelines for device-based therapy of cardiac rhythm abnormalities: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012;60(14):1297-1313. PMID: 22975230 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22975230/.