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Many people don’t even know that they have an arrhythmia because the symptoms aren’t always visible. While any person can develop this condition, there are certain factors which increase the risk of an arrhythmia. People who already have a heart condition are at a greater risk of developing an arrhythmia. Most heart ailments listed below disrupt the functioning of the heart, and over time this can result in an arrhythmia.
- Heart Valve Disease – A weak or leaky valve on the heart can drastically change the heart beat.
- Endocarditis – People suffering from this condition, the heart muscle becomes inflammated which leads to atrial fibrillation.
- Coronary Heart Disease – When plaque builds up in the blood vessels, it becomes increasingly difficult for the heart to pump blood. As a result, the heart rate becomes slower.
- Heart Attack – The individuals who suffered a heart failure are at a high risk of arrhythmias because of the change in the heart’s electrical impulses.
Other risk factors include diabetes, asthma, pulmonary embolism, chronic lung disease, emphysema (a lung disorder caused by uncontrolled smoking), high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnoea, imbalance of body chemicals (such as potassium, calcium or magnesium)
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Arrhythmia:
As already mentioned, you may not be able to notice the symptoms of an arrhythmia until its too late.
However, a physician can find the irregularity in the heartbeat by conducting an electrocardiogram (ECG) or in a physical exam during which he takes your pulse. Some common symptoms include:
- Pounding effect in the chest region.
- Shortness of breath.
- Frequent bouts of fatigue or weakness.
- Feeling dizzy or light-headed
- Palpitations – feeling as if you skipped a heart beat.
Treatment Plan For Arrhythmia:
Depending on its type, an arrhythmia is treated with a combination of medicines, medical procedures and surgery.
- Medicines: The physician prescribes the medicines based on the symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness and fainting. If the heartbeat is too fast, anti-arrhythmics such as beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and digoxin are used to slow it down to a normal rate. Blood thinning medications such as Warfarin, heparin and aspirin can help in some cases. However, no medicine is found to increase the heart rate reliably. So, pacemakers are used in the case of heart rates that are abnormally slow.
- Medical Procedures: Many types of arrhythmias are treated using pacemakers which are tiny devices placed in the chest area to speed up the heart beat. People with a high ask of ventricular fibrillation, a small device called an ICD is placed under the skin of the chest. It monitors the heartbeat and whenever it senses a ventricular arrhythmia, it sends out a small electric shock to regularize the heart beat.
- Surgery: When the above options fail to yield results, the doctors may treat an arrhythmia with surgery. In one type of surgery, the surgeon create a tiny cut or burn in the atria to prevent the spread of uneven electrical signals. If the arrhythmia is caused by coronary artery disease, the physician may recommend coronary artery bypass surgery which increases the blood circulation in the heart muscles.
In most cases, a surgery will be needed in case of an emergency. Whenever someone experiences a V-fib, it is important to rush him to any of the nearest healthcare services without delay.
Sathya Kumar is the Founder & CEO at Techindia Infoway Pvt Ltd., Chennai. Techindia is Asia’s largest provider of healthcare management solutions for exceptional remote healthcare diagnostics and patient monitoring, with a proven track of high performance for highly regulated healthcare industries and for the patients globally.