When Does Arrhythmia Require Treatment

When Does Arrhythmia Require Treatment

Your heart is a strong muscle that pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood throughout your body on a daily basis. Your heart beats in two beats. First, the upper chamber contracts, pushing blood into the lower chamber. Next, the lower chamber contracts, pumping blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen and and on to the rest of the body.

Any change in the normal rhythm of your heartbeat — arrhythmia — affects the flow of blood through your heart and to the rest of the body. Some arrhythmias are brief and harmless; others are constant and life-threatening.

At Indus Cardiology, our team of general and interventional cardiologists under the direction of Dr. Yogesh Paliwal, provides comprehensive cardiology consultations and care for all types of heart conditions at our offices in Pomona, Montclair, and West Covina, California. 

Here, we want to tell you about arrhythmias and when they need treatment.

About arrhythmia

An arrhythmia is a heartbeat that’s too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregular. Anyone can develop an arrhythmia. 

Stress, too much caffeine, and certain allergy medications may cause changes in the normal rhythm of your heart. You can also develop an arrhythmia from an underlying health condition such as hypertension, coronary artery disease (CAD), or a thyroid disorder. 

If you have an arrhythmia, it may feel like your heart is doing flip-flops in your chest — heart palpitations. Arrhythmias may also cause shortness of breath, chest pain, or dizziness. It’s possible to have an arrhythmia and not have any symptoms. Your primary care provider may incidentally find the abnormal heartbeat during a routine physical exam.

Most arrhythmias are harmless. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your symptoms or your diagnosis. 

Arrhythmia types

Where the abnormal heartbeat starts (atria or ventricles) and how it affects the rhythm of your heartbeat determine the arrhythmia type. Common types include:

Atrial fibrillation (AFib)

AFib affects the upper chamber of your heart, causing a rapid and irregular heartbeat. This type of arrhythmia affects more than 2.5 million people in the United States. 

Atrial flutter

Atrial flutter causes a rapid heartbeat in the upper chamber that’s out of sync with the beat in the lower chamber.

Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)

PSVT is a short-term arrhythmia that causes an extra heartbeat in the upper chamber, which then travels to the lower chamber. 

Ventricular tachycardia

Ventricular tachycardia is a fast heartbeat in the lower chamber. This type of arrhythmia usually only lasts a few seconds.

Ventricular fibrillation

With ventricular fibrillation, the ventricle quivers instead of contracting to pump blood. This type of arrhythmia is serious and may lead to a heart attack and death. 

When to get treatment

Deciding when a heart arrhythmia needs treatment depends on arrhythmia type and the frequency and severity of symptoms. We perform a number of diagnostic tests to determine arrhythmia type, so we can make sure you get the right care.

If you have a persistent arrhythmia that puts you at risk of developing other health problems, then you need treatment. AFib, for example, may cause blood clots to form in the heart, increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. 

Treatment for arrhythmia may include medication to control heart rhythm or prevent blood clots, procedures that eliminate the arrhythmia (catheter ablation), or placement of a device that helps maintain normal heart rhythm (pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator). 

An arrhythmia doesn’t always need treatment, but it isn’t a symptom you should ignore. If you have an abnormal heartbeat or concerns about heart health, give us a call today to schedule an appointment. 

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