The heart has its own electrical system. Electrical impulses are essential to make your heart beat to pump blood to your entire body. Your heart has four chambers, two on the right and two on the left. It has two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles). In a healthy heart, regular electrical signals cause these four chambers to contract and relax in a steady rhythm of 60 to 100 beats per minute.
What is an Arrhythmia?
Arrhythmia is a fault in the heart’s electrical system, which affects your heart’s pumping rhythm. The abnormal electrical activity makes the heart muscle beat in an irregular way.
In a healthy heart, you don’t usually feel your heartbeat. That’s why if you feel your heart beating too fast, too slowly or irregularly, you should see your doctor. Most arrhythmias are not life-threatening, but can still cause complications that are best managed with your healthcare team.
Types of Arrhythmias
Arrhythmias is a broad term that cover a range of abnormalities in the heart’s electrical system. They’re classified by whether they start in the top (atria) or bottom (ventricles) of the heart and by the speed of heart rate they cause.
Some common arrythmias include:
Are Arrhythmias serious?
Arrhythmias are a range of conditions, which have a range of outcomes. Some arrhythmias do not require any intervention, and will not affect your long-term health outcomes. Other arrhythmias are life-threatening and require urgent treatment. Sometimes, an arrhythmia can be a manifestation of an underlying condition that requires management by your doctor (eg. thyroid problems or anxiety).
An irregular heartbeat or pulse can be a sign of arrhythmia, or another heart condition. If you feel your heart beating too fast, too slowly or irregularly, you should see your GP.
Occasionally, people with a healthy heart may have an irregular heart rhythm or palpitation during a time of emotional or physical stress. Noticeable palpitations don’t necessarily mean you have a serious problem.
Arrhythmia symptoms include:
It is important to keep in mind that some arrhythmias don’t cause any noticeable symptoms. Your GP might find you have an arrhythmia before you do, during a check-up.
Causes of Arrhythmia
Some conditions can lead to an arrhythmia, including:
Risk Factors for Arrhythmia