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A cardiac arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart is not beating in a normal rhythm. A cardiac arrhythmia is often a symptom of a wide variety of diseases, disorders and conditions that cause the heart to beat in way that is irregular, too rapid (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia) and/or not at all (asystole). There are many types of cardiac arrhythmias, which can be mild to severe to life-threatening.
The rhythm of the heartbeat is controlled by the electrical conduction system of the heart. A healthy electrical conduction system causes the chambers of the heart to contract and pump blood in a steady efficient manner that maintains a normal blood pressure and good blood circulation. A cardiac arrhythmia can result when the electrical conduction system is damaged or stimulated abnormally due to certain diseases and disorders, such as heart disease or hyperthyroidism. Some athletes can develop a cardiac arrhythmia called athletic bradycardia, which is generally benign and a sign of athletic training.
A cardiac arrhythmia can occur in any age group or population, but people at risk include those who have a history of heart valve disorders, cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure and hyperthyroidism. Other conditions that can result in a cardiac arrhythmia include electrolyte imbalance, smoking, excessive exercise, alcoholism and drinking too much caffeine. Cardiac arrhythmias can also be a side effect of stimulant drugs, such as certain diet drugs, and some street drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
A cardiac arrhythmia can be acute and appear relatively suddenly, such as the rapid cardiac arrhythmia that occurs with paroxysmal ventricular tachycardia (PSVT). Cardiac arrhythmia can also be ongoing and chronic, such as when an elderly person develops chronic atrial fibrillation.
Other potentially serious types of cardiac arrhythmias include paroxysmal atrial tachycardia, atrial flutter and second degree heart block. Quickly life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias include ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation, which can rapidly lead to cardiac arrest. In cardiac arrest the heart has stopped beating or is beating too inefficiently to sustain life.
Symptoms of a cardiac arrhythmia can include chest pain and palpitations. Complications of a cardiac arrhythmia can be life-threatening. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of cardiac arrhythmia.
Diagnosing a cardiac arrhythmia and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Diagnostic testing includes an EKG, which creates a picture of the heart's electrical activity and rhythm. A longer-term portable telemetry EKG device may also be worn. Other tests may include a chest X-ray, echocardiogram, and blood cardiac assay tests, which can help identify damage to the heart.
A diagnosis of a cardiac arrhythmia and its underlying cause can easily be delayed or missed because some people may be unaware that they have a cardiac arrhythmia. In addition, symptoms of a cardiac arrhythmia can be similar to symptoms of other disorders and conditions. For information about misdiagnosis and other disorders and conditions that can mimic a cardiac arrhythmia, refer to misdiagnosis of cardiac arrhythmia.
Treatment of a cardiac arrhythmia varies depending on the specific type of cardiac arrhythmia, the underlying cause, coexisting diseases, and other factors. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of cardiac arrhythmia....more »
Diagnosing a cardiac arrhythmia and its cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases the symptoms may not be severe or bothersome enough for a person to seek medical care. Some people may be unaware that they are experiencing symptoms of a cardiac arrhythmia. In addition, some symptoms of cardiac arrhythmia, such as palpitations and feeling ...more misdiagnosis »
The following medical conditions are some of the possible
causes of Cardiac arrhythmia.
There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor
about your symptoms.
» Review Causes of Cardiac arrhythmia: Causes
Home medical tests possibly related to Cardiac arrhythmia:
The first step in treating a cardiac arrhythmia is prevention. This includes not smoking, not using illegal drugs or abusing prescription stimulant medications, and moderating caffeine and alcohol intake.
Once a cardiac arrhythmia develops, a treatment plan is individualized to the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and general ...Cardiac arrhythmia Treatments
Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Cardiac arrhythmia may include:
Review further information on Cardiac arrhythmia Treatments.
When combined, certain drugs, medications, substances or toxins may react causing Cardiac arrhythmia as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.
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Read more about causes and Cardiac arrhythmia deaths.
Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss, there are varying degrees of severity. It is altogether too common for people to die from undiagnosed heart attack, or from...read more »
Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also many cases where people fear that they have a heart attack, but actually have something milder. Some of the conditions...read more »
Rare heart condition often undiagnosed: The rare heart condition called long QT syndrome can lead to episodes of palpitations and rapid heartbeat. In rare cases, this undiagnosed condition can be fatal....read more »
Heart attack can be over-diagnosed: Although heart attack is often undiagnosed, leading to fatality, it can also be over-diagnosed. People become concerned that a condition is a heart attack, whereas there are...read more »
Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff" around the arm to measure blood pressure can...read more »
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Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible
causes of Cardiac arrhythmia as a symptom include:
An abnormal rate of muscle contractions in the heart.
- (Source - Diseases Database)
The list below shows some of the causes of Cardiac arrhythmia mentioned in various sources:
This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Cardiac arrhythmia. Of the 64 causes of Cardiac arrhythmia that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:
The following list of conditions have 'Cardiac arrhythmia' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.
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The following list of medical conditions have Cardiac arrhythmia or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.
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This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Cardiac arrhythmia based
on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:
Medical Conditions associated with Cardiac arrhythmia:
Symptoms related to Cardiac arrhythmia:
Fast pulse (865 causes), Slow pulse (49 causes), Arrhythmias (172 causes), Palpitations (566 causes), Heart rhythm symptoms (1589 causes), Heart symptoms (2927 causes), Tachycardia (194 causes), Bradycardia (111 causes), Atrial flutter, Atrial fibrillation (77 causes), Supraventricular tachycardia, Ventricular tachycardia, Wolf Parkinson White syndrome, Long QT syndrome, Myocardial infarction (38 causes), Infections (1293 causes), Conduction defects, Ventricular tachyaarthytmias
Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:
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Medical research papers related to Cardiac arrhythmia include:
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