Helping keep you and your heart in sync
A recent study suggests that one-in-four adult Americans over age 40 could develop an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. A heart, or cardiac, arrhythmia can mean that your heart beats too fast, or too slow or with an abnormal rhythm. Abnormal heartbeats can cause your heart to pump blood less effectively which results in damage to your organs in need of this blood.
One of the most common types of arrhythmia, or heart rhythm disorder, is atrial fibrillation, or A-fib, where the upper chambers of your heart quiver instead of beating. Other types of arrhythmias can include a heart rate that is beating too fast or too slow. Risk factors for developing an arrhythmia include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, valve disorders, injury from a heart attack or electrolyte imbalances in the blood such as sodium or potassium.
Some arrhythmias won't have any symptoms and can be detected by your doctor or through diagnostic tests. Symptoms you may have include:
- Palpitations: a feeling of skipped heartbeats or a fluttering sensation
- Pounding in the chest
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- Shortness of breath
- Chest discomfort
- Weakness or fatigue (feeling very tired)