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Arrhythmia: Introduction

An arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart is not beating in a normal rhythm. An arrhythmia is 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 arrhythmias, which can be mild to severe to life-threatening. Arrhythmia is also known as cardiac arrhythmia.

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. An 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 an arrhythmia called athletic bradycardia, which is generally benign and a sign of athletic training.

An arrhythmia can occur in any age group or population, but people most at risk include those who have a history of heart valve disorders, cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure and hypothyroidism. Other conditions that can result in an arrhythmia include electrolyte imbalance, smoking, excessive exercise, alcoholism and drinking too much caffeine. Arrhythmias can also be a side effect of stimulant drugs, such as certain diet drugs, and some street drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

An arrhythmia can be acute and appear relatively suddenly, such as the rapid arrhythmia that occurs with paroxysmal ventricular tachycardia (PSVT). Arrhythmia can also be ongoing and chronic, such as when an elderly person develops chronic atrial fibrillation.

Other potentially serious types of arrhythmias include paroxysmal atrial tachycardia, atrial flutter and second degree heart block. Quickly life-threatening arrhythmias include ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation, which can lead to cardiac arrest. In cardiac arrest the heart has stopped beating or is beating too inefficiently to sustain life.

Symptoms of an arrhythmia can include chest pain and palpitations. Complications of an arrhythmia can be life-threatening. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of arrhythmia.

Diagnosing an 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 an arrhythmia and its underlying cause can easily be delayed or missed because some people may be unaware that they have an arrhythmia. In addition, symptoms of an arrhythmia can be similar to symptoms of other disorders and conditions. For information about misdiagnosis and other disorders and conditions that can mimic an arrhythmia, refer to misdiagnosis of arrhythmia.

Treatment of an arrhythmia varies depending on the specific type of arrhythmia, the underlying cause, coexisting diseases and other factors. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of arrhythmia....more »

Arrhythmia: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing an 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 an arrhythmia. In addition, some symptoms of arrhythmia, such as palpitations and lightheadedness are similar to symptoms of ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Arrhythmia:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Arrhythmia. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Arrhythmia: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Arrhythmia

Home medical tests possibly related to Arrhythmia:

Causes of Types of Arrhythmia:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Arrhythmia:

Arrhythmia: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Arrhythmia, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

Arrhythmia Treatments

The first step in treating an arrhythmia is prevention. This includes not smoking, not using illegal drugs or abusing prescription stimulant medications, and moderating caffeine and alcohol intake.

Once an arrhythmia develops, a treatment plan is individualized to the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and general health ...Arrhythmia Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Arrhythmia may include:

Review further information on Arrhythmia Treatments.

Arrhythmia: Animations

Drug interactions causing Arrhythmia:

When combined, certain drugs, medications, substances or toxins may react causing 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.

  • Fluvoxamine and Terfenadine interaction
  • Apo-Fluvoxamine and Terfenadine interaction
  • Gen-Fluvoxamine and Terfenadine interaction
  • Luvox and Terfenadine interaction
  • Novo-Fluvoxamine and Terfenadine interaction
  • PMS-Fluvoxamine and Terfenadine interaction
  • more interactions...»

Arrhythmia: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Arrhythmia may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Arrhythmia

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Arrhythmia:

Arrhythmia: Deaths

Read more about causes and Arrhythmia deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Arrhythmia

Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss, there are varying degrees of severity. 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 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 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 various less dangerous 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 more »

Hypertension misdiagnosis common in children: Hypertension is often misdiagnosed in adults (see misdiagnosis of hypertension), but more »

Arrhythmia: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Arrhythmia

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Arrhythmia:

Arrhythmia: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Arrhythmia: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Article Excerpts about Arrhythmia

An arrhythmia is a change in the regular beat of the heart. The heart may seem to skip a beat or beat irregularly or very fast or very slowly. (Source: excerpt from NHLBI, Arrhythmia: NHLBI)

An arrhythmia is a change in the regular beat of the heart. The heart may seem... (Source: excerpt from NHLBI, Arrhythmia: NHLBI)

Most people have felt their heart beat very fast, felt a fluttering in their... (Source: excerpt from HEART AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: NWHIC)

Definitions of Arrhythmia:

An abnormal rate of muscle contractions in the heart.
- (Source - Diseases Database)

Any variation from the normal rhythm or rate of the heart beat.
- (Source - CRISP)

Detailed list of causes of Arrhythmia

The list below shows some of the causes of Arrhythmia mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Arrhythmia?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Arrhythmia. Of the 267 causes of Arrhythmia that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 3 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 7 causes are "common" diseases
  • 2 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 1 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 13 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 248 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Arrhythmia:

The following list of conditions have '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.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Arrhythmia or choose View All.

View All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z



























Conditions listing medical complications: Arrhythmia:

The following list of medical conditions have 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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Causes of Arrhythmia Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Arrhythmia based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Travel - has the patient travelled recently?
  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Classifications of Arrhythmia:

    Subtypes of Arrhythmia:

    Additional Heart Sounds (267 causes), Bruit (15 causes), Cervical bruit (14 causes), Bruits (22 causes), Tachycardia (194 causes), Soft Heart Sounds (9 causes), Loud Heart Sounds (10 causes), Intracranial bruit (5 causes)

    Medical Conditions associated with Arrhythmia:

    Heart rhythm symptoms (1589 causes), Heart symptoms (2927 causes), Cardiovascular symptoms (3192 causes)

    Symptoms related to Arrhythmia:

    Heart rhythm symptoms (1589 causes), Slow pulse (49 causes), Fast pulse (865 causes), Bounding pulse (27 causes), Heart noises, Bradycardia (111 causes), Tachycardia (194 causes), Heart rythm, Irregular rhythm (18 causes), Fibrillation, Flutter, Sino atrial node, SAN

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Medical News summaries about Arrhythmia

    Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Arrhythmia and many other medical conditions:

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Arrhythmias:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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