What Is A Heart Rhythm Disorder?
A heart rhythm disorder, otherwise referred to as an arrhythmia, is a condition where the heart beats either too fast or too slow. This occurs when the heart does not send electrical impulses correctly. There are two different types of arrhythmias:
- Tachycardia- This specific type of arrhythmia refers to the heart beating too quickly, or anything over 100 beats per minute (bpm).
- Bradycardia- This type of arrhythmia refers to the heart beating too slowly, or anything under 60 bpm.
Some people are unaware of their arrhythmia because the symptoms may be faint or unnoticeable. The symptoms for an arrhythmia may range from light to severe and include:
- A racing or slow heartbeat
- Fluttering in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
When Should I See A Doctor?
Not all people who experience these conditions have an arrhythmia or another serious heart condition. It is recommended that you see a doctor if these symptoms persist, if your family has a history of heart-related issues, or if you are experiencing extreme chest pain or discomfort and difficulty breathing.
How Can I Treat My Arrhythmia?
There are many different treatment options for fixing an arrhythmia. Depending on the severity of the condition, treatments range from medication to surgery. However, medical professionals typically place arrhythmic patients on medication. There are 4 different types of medication that a doctor may place you on:
- Anti-arrhythmic drugs- This type of arrhythmia medication is for those with an exceptionally fast heart rate. This medication manipulates the electrical currents that your heart releases and regulates them to mimic a normal heartbeat. Some examples of these medications are Cordarone and Tambocor.
- Calcium channel blockers- If you have an arrhythmia in combination with other heart issues such as high blood pressure or angina, a doctor may prescribe you this type of medication. Calcium channel blockers allow the conduction in the heart to slow down and beat more efficiently.. Some examples of these medications are Diltiazem and Verapamil.
- Beta-blockers- This type of medication is specifically for those diagnosed with tachycardia. People with this type of arrhythmia have a tendency to feel heightened levels of adrenaline or anxiety beta-blockers can reduce. Some examples of these medications are Metoprolol and Atenolol.
- Anticoagulants- This is a blood-thinning medication only used for certain arrhythmia cases where patients develop blood clots. This medication does not eliminate all blood clots, it simply reduces the likelihood of developing one. Some examples of these medications are Eliquis, Pradaxa, Xarelto and Warfarin.
These medications are widely used to reduce blood pressure, control heartbeat, and regulate the heart’s electrical signals. While it is recommended that those with an arrhythmia seek treatment, some medications have side effects. Some of the most common include:
- Damage or issues with the lungs, kidneys, liver, and thyroid
While some of these issues may be temporary during the beginning of treatment, others may require medical intervention. Your doctor will monitor you to make sure that you are safe while on the medication and will stop the medication if the risks outweigh the benefits.