Common arrhythmias - CardioScan Australia
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Common arrhythmias

By Assoc Prof Harry Mond
December 16, 2020

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What is an arrhythmia?

Arrhythmias are a group of conditions in which the heart beat is irregular and beats too fast or too slow. Some can be well managed by your doctor as a long-term condition, and others are life-threatening and require urgent treatment.

Common signs and symptoms

Atrial fibrillation can often result in no symptoms, which is why regular check-ups with a health professional are important. If symptoms do occur, they can present as:

  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Fatigue
  • Fluttering or pounding in your chest
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Racing heartbeat when feeling at the wrist (tachycardia)
  • Slow heartbeat when feeling at the wrist (bradycardia)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
Atrial fibrillation

One of the most common arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation is when the heart’s top chambers (atria) twitch rather than contract and beat rapidly, chaotically and out of rhythm with the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles).

Atrial flutter

Atrial flutter is similar to atrial fibrillation but is more regular and less chaotic. However, it can develop into atrial fibrillation and vice versa.

Ectopic heartbeats

This is condition refers to a missed or extra beat. Ectopic beats can occur in the top or bottom heart chambers and can occur in healthy individuals.

Paroxysmal arrhythmias

This is when the arrhythmia starts and stops suddenly, and the event can last for seconds, minutes, hours or up to a week.

Heart block

Heart block is a delay or a blockage of the heart’s electrical messages, which may cause your heart to pump abnormally or your heart rate to slow to less than 60 beats per minute. It is also known as atrioventricular (AV) heart block and bundle branch.

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)

This is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the heart’s atria, which cause the heart rate to increase very suddenly to over 100 beats per minute.

Ventricular tachycardia

Referring to abnormal electrical activity in the heart’s ventricles, this causes a fast heartbeat that can start very quickly and last for seconds or go on for longer – and can cause cardiac arrest.

Ventricular fibrillation

This is a very fast, erratic and ineffective pumping rhythm in the hearts ventricles, and can also cause cardiac arrest.

Long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome and Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome

Each of these can cause fast and irregular heartbeats. These conditions are related to a specific abnormality in the heart electrical system that can lead to fainting spells or even cardiac arrest.

About Assoc Prof Harry Mond

In 49+ years as a practicing cardiologist, Dr Harry Mond has published 260+ published manuscripts & books. A co-founder of CardioScan, he remains Medical Director and oversees 500K+ heart studies each year.

Download his full profile here.

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