If you feel like your heart skipped a beat, it may mean you're in love. If it did literally, it may mean you have arrhythmia. Arrhythmia refers to a heart condition characterized by irregular heartbeat. It means that the heart beats too quickly or too slowly, or it beats in an irregular pattern. In the United States, arrhythmia affects more than 850,000 people each year.
Arrhythmia is also known as Dysrhythmia.
It can be caused by any of the following factors:
- heart attack injury
- coronary artery disease
- changes in the heart muscle
- electrolyte imbalance in the blood
This condition comes in various types including:
• Premature Atrial Contractions
In this type, there are early extra beats coming from the upper chambers of the heart or the atria. These are not serious and they don't require treatment.
• Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs)
The most common form of arrhythmia, PVCs are heartbeats that occur earlier than they should, briefly interrupting the heart's rhythm.
- It may occur even in people that do not have any heart disease.
- It can be due to stress, excessive nicotine or caffeine, and over exercising.
- It can also be caused by electrolyte imbalance or heart disease.
- If you're constantly experiencing this type of irregular heartbeat, you should go to the doctor for evaluation.
- Most of the time these are harmless and don't require treatment.
• Atrial Fibrillation
This is another common type of arrhythmia. It causes the upper chambers of the heart to contract abnormally.
• Atrial Flutter
This one is caused by rapid circuits in the atrium. People who have heart disease or who have undergone heart surgery are prone to this type of irregular heartbeat. Usually, it progresses to atrial fibrillation.
• Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT)
This refers to rapid heart rate that occurs with regular rhythm. The irregular heartbeats originate from above the ventricles and are characterized by abrupt starts and ends.
PSVT comes in two types:
1) Accessory Path Tachycardias
Accessory Pathway Tachycardias: This is a rapid heart rate caused by abnormal connection between the upper and lower chambers of the heart.
2) AV Nodal Reentrant Tachycardias
AV Nodal Reentrant Tachycardia: This rapid heart rate occurs when there is more than one pathway through the AV node. It can result in palpitations, fainting, or even heart failure. To terminate this, breathing in and bearing down should be performed.
• Ventricular Tachycardia (V-Tach)
This is another rapid heart rhythm that originates from the ventricles or the lower chambers of the heart. Because of the rapid rate, the heart is unable to pump blood adequately through the body. This is serious and should be evaluated by a doctor right away.
• Ventricular fibrillation
This type is characterized by erratic impulses from the ventricles, the lower chambers of the heart quiver, making it difficult for them to contract and pump blood to the body. Considered a medical emergency, ventricular fibrillation should be immediately treated with cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation.