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 »
Tachycardia: Excessively rapid heart beat.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Tachycardia is available below.
The symptoms of a cardiac arrhythmia differ depending on the specific type and severity of the disorder. Symptoms can include anxiety, palpitations, chest pan, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting or syncope and angina. Symptoms can also include seizures, hypotension, weak pulse, absent pulse, labored breathing and loss of breathing (apnea).
Certain untreated ...more symptoms »
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 health of the patient, ...more treatments »
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 lightheaded are ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Tachycardia
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symptoms of Tachycardia
Treatments for Tachycardia
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Home Diagnostic Testing
Home medical testing related to Tachycardia:
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Wrongly Diagnosed with Tachycardia?
Tachycardia: Related Patient Stories
Read more about Deaths and Tachycardia.
Alternative Treatments for Tachycardia
Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Tachycardia may include:
- Valsalva maneuver (try to exhale while pinching off nose and mouth)
- Massage the right carotid artery
- Avoid caffeine or any other stimulant
- Plunge your face into ice cold water
- more treatments »
Types of Tachycardia
Read more about Types of Tachycardia
Read more about complications of Tachycardia.
Causes of Tachycardia
- Normal heart rate increase as response to various situations:
- more causes...»
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causes of Tachycardia
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Disease Topics Related To Tachycardia
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Tachycardia: Undiagnosed Conditions
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Misdiagnosis and Tachycardia
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In rare cases, this...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,
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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...read more »
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and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
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Clinical Trials for Tachycardia
Statistics for Tachycardia
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Types of Tachycardia
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Definitions of Tachycardia:
Abnormally rapid heartbeat (over 100 beats per minute)
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
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