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Manhattan Cardiology

Are You Living With a life threatening Arrhythmia?

An arrhythmia is basically an abnormal heart rhythm that you are not even aware of. The symptoms could be as mild as a slight fluttering from time to time, or it could present serious, life-threatening consequences if left untreated. Depending on the type and underlying cause of the arrhythmia, treatment may be effective and non-invasive.

Are you living with a life-threatening arrhythmia? Here’s what you should know:

Heart Arrhythmia

As mentioned, there are many different types of arrhythmias, each with their own symptoms and complications. Some arrhythmias include:

  • Atrial fibrillation is quite common and causes abnormal contractions of the heart.
  • An atrial flutter tends to follow a pattern and is more regular than other heartbeat abnormalities.
  • A paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) is a rapid heartbeat that starts and stops suddenly.
  • Premature atrial contractions are basically extra heartbeats and are typically benign.
  • Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) manifest in a skipped beat and are quite a common type of arrhythmia.
  • Accessory pathway tachycardias are fast heartbeats due to impulses in the pathways of your heart.

The best way to rule out serious heart conditions and life-threatening arrhythmias is with routine appointments with your provider and testing with a cardiology specialist that could include an EKG, stress test or echo-cardiogram.

Risk Factors

Many things increase your risk for arrhythmia, including your age and gender. Men are at higher risk than women, but more women die from arrhythmias overall than men. Also, the older demographic are more likely to be diagnosed with an arrhythmia than younger folks.

Some other factors that impact your likelihood to have an arrhythmia include:

  • History of heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Overactive or underactive thyroid
  • Use of alcohol, drugs or tobacco products
  • Stress
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Specific medications and over-the-counter drugs
  • Genetic predisposition

Remember that many arrhythmias have little to no impact on everyday life and require no real treatment. Don’t let a fear of the unknown prevent you from seeing a cardiologist about your arrhythmia and to rule out any potential complications.

Signs and Symptoms

In some cases, there are no signs of an arrhythmia until your doctor informs you that you have one. Some symptoms of an arrhythmias may include a fluttering feeling in your chest or an abnormal heartbeat, either too fast or too slow. Other signs of a potential issue could be chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath or fainting. A cardiologist will conduct tests to determine which type of abnormality you are experiencing and how severe the arrhythmia is.

Arrhythmia Prevention

The best way to prevent an arrhythmia and control symptoms of an existing condition is through lifestyle choices. Stay away from foods, substances and habits that could exacerbate the abnormality of your heartbeat and cause potential complications and risks.

Monitor or avoid:

  • Caffeine
  • Tobacco products
  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines and stimulants
  • Cold medicines and cough suppressants
  • Anything with ephedrine
  • Weight loss drugs
  • Psychotropic medications
  • Beta blockers

Maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle are also recommended for controlling symptoms of an existing arrhythmia; stress management is key.

The best way to determine if you have an arrhythmia is to have regular appointments with your provider. An arrhythmia doesn’t need to change your life, but when you make simple lifestyle changes, you may find that your arrhythmia is easy to forget about. Prevent a heart abnormality and lower risk factors with healthy habits and abstinence.