Arrhythmias are cardiovascular diseases which are characterized by an abnormal heart rhythm. It occurs due to changes in the heart’s electrical system. Each heartbeat begins in the sinus node, an area in the right atrium. The sinus node starts each heartbeat by generating some amount of electricity which spreads into the muscle cells atria and causes the upper chamber to contract. Now, the electrical activity moves between the atria and ventricles. This area is known as an atrioventricular node and acts as a relay station. It takes the signals coming from atria and passes it to ventricles, which causes them to beat. Whenever any problem occurs in this process, arrhythmias occur.
Types of Arrhythmias
There are two types of arrhythmias:
Bradycardia is a condition in which the heartbeat is too slow. It is defined as a heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute. It becomes serious when the heart beats too slow that the heart is unable to pump enough blood to fulfill the needs of the body. A slow heartbeat may be perfectly normal but it becomes pathogenic when it results in decreased cardiac output and causes symptoms.
Symptomatic bradycardia can be associated with two possible physiologic disturbances.
- Sick sinus syndrome - It is a term which refers to a variety of cardiac arrhythmias and it is characterized by the sinus node dysfunction. The defining feature of sick sinus syndrome is that the heart does not function normally. This syndrome has several manifestations such as sinus pause. Sinus pause is a period that is greater than five seconds during which there is no atrial depolarization. Some of the symptoms of this disease include lightheadedness, blurred vision, and nausea.
- Heart Block - It is a rare but serious disorder that causes a delay in electrical signals from the atria to the ventricles. The symptoms of this problem vary from person to person and it can range from mild to severe, depending on the location and seriousness of the blockage.
Tachycardia is a condition in which the heart beats too fast. It is defined as a heartbeat that is generally 100 beats per minute. Uncontrolled tachycardia can induce cardiac failure, cardiac ischemia and may degenerate into ventricular fibrillation. Tachycardia is of different forms:
1. Supraventricular tachycardia - It is defined as a rapid abnormal heartbeat that begins in the upper chamber of the heart. Sometimes pain in the chest and shortness of breath occurs in patients having supraventricular tachycardia. It is further subdivided into types:
- Atrial flutter - It occurs when the waves of uncontrolled electrical signal travel around the atria in a circle and not along the normal signal pathway. These waves often start in one or four veins that bring blood from the lungs into the heart. Atrial flutter can be severe and it can lead to the development of a blood clot inside the atria.
- Atrial fibrillation - It is a condition in which the heart’s two upper small chambers begin to beat irregularly and too fast. It is characterized by symptoms like heart palpitations, dizziness, sweating, shortness of breath, and fainting. This disease can be serious and associated with other medical conditions such as stroke, heart failure, extreme tiredness, and inconsistent blood supply.
2. Paroxysmal Supraventricular tachycardia - It is the most common and frequent arrhythmia in newborns and infants. It affects the healthy heart and makes it more prone to episodes of sudden regular rapid heartbeats and it can continue for minutes or hours.
3. Ventricular tachycardia - Ventricular tachycardia occurring in the absence of structural heart disease is known as idiopathic ventricular tachycardia. Idiopathic ventricular tachycardia includes outflow tract ventricular tachycardia that encompasses right ventricular outflow tract, ventricular tachycardia and left ventricular outflow tract.
Ventricular tachycardia is potentially dangerous and under this condition, the ventricles beat too fast. When this condition becomes uncontrollable and becomes serious to such an extent that the ventricles are unable to pump effectively, it can lead to the development of ventricular fibrillation. Ventricular fibrillation is a life-threatening condition that needs immediate treatment.
Causes of arrhythmia
Some of the causes of arrhythmia are as follows:
- Irritable heart cells
- Blocked signals
- Abnormal pathway
- Certain medicines
Arrhythmia is a serious disorder and needs to be treated immediately. Share this post with your loved ones to share information about this disease and create awareness. Stay Safe, Stay Healthy!!