An occasional period of an abnormal heart rhythm is not rare and usually isn’t serious. Many adults have had some rhythm problem, whether due to too much caffeine, stress, or other issues. The feelings may be of your heart racing, a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness.
But certain heart rhythms can be serious, potentially even deadly. That’s when it’s time to call Dr. Smith and let him figure out what is going on.
Symptoms to watch for
Certain heart rhythms, especially if they last long enough to affect the heart’s function are serious. Watch for these signs:
- Palpitations or skipped beats— These can seem as if your heart missed a beat, but it actually has added an early heartbeat. This beat happens before the heart has a chance to fill with blood, resulting in a pause.
- Fluttering— A fluttering sensation in the chest is usually due to extra or “skipped beats” that occur one after another. They can also be caused by other kinds of abnormal heart rhythms.
- Slow heartbeat / Bradycardia— If your heart beats too slowly, usually less than 60 beats per minute (except in highly conditioned people), not enough blood carrying oxygen flows through the body.
- Rapid heartbeat / Tachycardia— If your heart beats too quickly (usually above 100 beats per minute), the lower chambers/ventricles do not have enough time to fill with blood, so they cannot effectively pump blood out into the rest of the body.
Symptoms of a slow heartbeat:
Symptoms of a rapid heartbeat:
- Skipping a beat
- Beating out of rhythm
- Fast heartbeat or racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain