What is Cardiac Arrhythmias?
Arrhythmias result from abnormal electrical conduction or automaticity that changes heart rate and rhythm. They vary in severity, from those that are mild, asymptomatic, and require no treatment (such as sinus arrhythmia, in which heart rate increases and decreases with respiration) to catastrophic ventricular fibrillation, which requires immediate resuscitation.
Arrhythmias are classified according to their origin as ventricular, atrial (supraventricular). or junctional. Their effect on cardiac output and blood pressure, partially influenced by the site of origin, can be used to determine their clinical significance.
Causes of Cardiac Arrhythmias
Arrhythmias may be congenital or may result from myocardial ischemia or infarction, organic heart disease, drug toxicity, or degeneration of conductive tissue necessary to maintain normal heart rhythm (sick sinus syndrome).
Signs & Symptoms of Cardiac Arrhythmias
Most arrhythmia does not result in symptoms, but people may experience anxiety, lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, unusual awareness of the heartbeat, and sensations of fluttering or pounding in the chest.
Electrocardiography (ECG) allows detection and identification of arrhythmias.
Effective treatment aims to return pacer function to the sinus node, increase or decrease ventricular rate to normal, regain atrioventricular synchrony, and maintain normal sinus rhythm. Such treatment corrects abnormal rhythms through therapy with antiarrhythmic drugs; electrical conversion with precordial shock (defibrillation and cardioversion); physical maneuvers, such as carotid massage and Valsalva's maneuver; temporary or permanent placement of a pacemaker to maintain heart rate; and surgical removal or cryotherapy of an irritable ectopic focus to prevent recurring arrhythmias.Arrhythmias may respond to treatment of the underlying disorder such as correction of hypoxia. However, arrhythmias associated with heart disease may require continuing and complex treatment.
If heart disease is not causing the arrhythmia, the doctor may suggest that you avoid what is causing it. For example, if caffeine or alcohol is the cause, the doctor may ask you not to drink coffee, tea, colas, or alcoholic beverages.
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