Cardiac arrhythmia: types, symptoms, causes

Cardiac arrhythmia: types, symptoms, causes

“When the heart loses its rhythm”: what happens when it comes to cardiac arrhythmia?

Cardiac arrhythmia: types, symptoms, causes

Life is rhythm . Yes, even for you who don’t love music and are always “out of time”. The hair grows, the skin regenerates, the intestine contracts and stretches. But above all the heart : “Beats. Strong. Always”, as the advertisement says. That’s right.

Our organs have their own rhythm, unique and different from person to person and from situation to situation. There are also times when this rhythm struggles to stay in its balance .

We speak of a-rhythm, loss of rhythm . What does it mean if the heart is out of time?

Cardiac arrhythmia: the types

We speak of cardiac arrhythmias , that is a group of pathologies with different manifestations and different causes, always linked to an alteration of the muscular contraction of the heart , and consequently of the heartbeats.

They are divided into:

  • Extrasystoles : the most common and harmless. It is not, as the name would imply, an extra (extra) heartbeat (systole) but a beat that occurs sooner than it should, and which is therefore also called ” premature beat ” .
  • Atrial fibrillation and flutter : the walls of the heart, in the area of ​​the atria, “fibrillate” or do not contract in synchrony as they should (in flutter they contract are synchronous but at high frequency). The greatest risks arise when, as a consequence of this asynchrony, the blood stagnates and can form “clots” (thrombi).
  • Paroxysmal tachycardia : an excessive heart rate that begins and ends suddenly. If the frequency increases excessively, there can be serious health risks .
  • Ventricular tachycardia : originates in the area of ​​the ventricles and causes a rhythmic but very rapid heartbeat If it persists for a long time it can become dangerous as the blood does not enter the body .
  • Ventricular fibrillation : The ventricles do not receive synchronous electrical signals, so they cannot contract properly. As a result, the heart does not pump blood to the body. It is an extremely dangerous situation that requires immediate medical attention, with a defibrillator .
  • Bradycardia : Heart rate is slower than normal (i.e. less than 50 beats per minute). It can cause poor blood flow to organs, and especially to the brain (causing loss of consciousness, or syncope). It is typical of athletes who practice at competitive levels. 

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Cardiac arrhythmia: symptoms

Some mild arrhythmias are asymptomatic , while others can be very marked (and dangerous). Among the various types of symptoms , here are the main ones: palpitations, shortness of breath, sudden excessive sweating, pain and tightness in the chest, fatigue, headache, nausea, fear, dizziness, frequent and abundant urination.

In particular:

  1. Extrasystoles are often asymptomatic , they can be felt as a “hit” in the chest or throat or even as a “pause” in the heartbeat.
  2. Atrial fibrillation can be asymptomatic or give palpitations, dizziness, difficulty breathing, mental confusion, fainting.

Cardiac arrhythmia: the causes

The causes of the arrhythmia are to be found in existing pathologies, or are secondary to physiological situations . Here are the main ones:

  • Imbalance of the minerals potassium and calcium (electrolytes) in the blood.
  • Heart disease, heart failure, myocardial infarction, pericarditis or myocarditis.
  • Changes in the heart valves.
  • Thyroid disorders (hyperthyroidism).
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea

Causes related to incorrect lifestyle :

  • excessive consumption of coffee ,
  • Energy Drinks ,
  • spirits and spirits,
  • smoke,
  • drug use (cocaine, amphetamines),
  • excessive stress .

Some drugs can also cause arrhythmias (bradycardia drugs, drugs containing Digitalis).

Sport practiced at a competitive level can lead to bradycardia, which is however physiological and harmless . As it can also happen in pregnancy , when the fetus pressing on the chest, the new hormonal balance, breathing and circulation difficulties can give rise to arrhythmias: palpitations or extrasystoles.

Do not worry, but contact your doctor , who will suggest if further tests are appropriate or if you can deal with excess anxiety or stress (in pregnancy, you know, there are many worries!)

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