Song lyrics are full of talk of heartbeats. But one in particular gets Dr. Smith’s attention:
My heart skips a beat.
Yeah, that’s not love. That’s arrhythmia, the medical term for an irregular heartbeat. Arrhythmia doesn’t necessarily mean your heart is beating too fast or too slow; it’s just out of normal rhythm.
You could feel as if it is fluttering, racing, dogging it, or as if it skipped a beat.
Dr. Smith treats all kinds of people with all kinds of arrhythmias.
What causes arrhythmia?
Different things can cause a person to have arrhythmia:
- Coronary artery disease
- Electrolyte imbalances in your blood
- Changes in your heart muscle
- Injury from heart attack
- Healing process after heart surgery
See, “love” wasn’t listed there, despite what many lyricists claim!
Are arrhythmias dangerous?
A heartbeat that is too fast is called tachycardia. A heartbeat that is too slow is called bradycardia. Or the pattern can simply be irregular.
Most cases of arrhythmia are harmless. But others are serious, even life threatening. During an arrhythmia, the heart may not pump a sufficient amount of blood to the body. This can damage most of the organs, including the brain and the heart.
There are many different types of arrhythmias. Most are named after the part/area of the heart where the problem originates, such as ventricular fibrillation.
What are the symptoms of arrhythmia?
Some people have “silent” arrhythmia, meaning they don’t have any symptoms. But most arrhythmias show some symptoms, such as:
- Pounding in the chest
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
- Weakness or fatigue