WHAT IS ARRHYTHMIA?
An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate (kadar) or rhythm (irama) of an individual’s heartbeat, Medline Plus states.
It means that the heart either beats too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern.
According to Medical News Today, many cases of heart arrhythmias are harmless; however, if they are mainly irregular, or caused by a weak or damaged heart, arrhythmias can cause serious and even potentially deadly symptoms.
Have you ever felt your heart skip a beat? Or have you experienced your heart beats too fast or shortness of breath after a workout session?
If it is temporary, it probably is your heart taking in more oxygenated blood to provide oxygen to the rest of the body.
If it is prolonged, you might have arrhythmia.
WHAT CAUSES ARRYTHMIAS?
Disturbance to the electrical impulses that cause the heart to contract (mengecut) can result in arrhythmia.
A person with a healthy heart should have a heart rate of between 60-100 beats per minute when resting.
A healthy person should have a lower resting heart rate.
For example, Olympic athletes should have a resting heart rate of under 60 beats per minute because their hearts are very efficient.
Many factors can cause the heart to work incorrectly, these include:
- alcohol abuse
- drug abuse
- excessive coffee consumption
- heart disease like congestive heart failure
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland)
- mental stress
- scarring of the heart, often because of a heart attack
- some medications
- structural changes of the heart
A healthy person will hardly experience long-term arrhythmia unless it is caused by an external factor, such as drug abuse or an electric shock.
CATEGORIES OF ARRHYTHMIA
Medical News Today, further explains arrhythmias can be broken down to 4 main categories:
- Slow heartbeat: bradycardia.
- Fast heartbeat: tachycardia.
- Irregular heartbeat: flutter (rasa berdebar-debar) or fibrillation.
- Early heartbeat: premature contraction. (pengecutan tidak matang)
SYMPTOMS OF ARRHYTHMIA
Mayoclinic explains, a doctor might detect an arrhythmia during a routine examination or on an EKG from a patient that has no symptoms.
Even if a patient notices symptoms, it does not necessarily mean there is a serious problem with his or her heart.
This means that, some patients with life-threatening arrhythmias may have no symptoms while others with symptoms may not have a serious problem.
Noticeable arrhythmia symptoms may include:
- A fluttering (rasa berdebar) in your chest
- A racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
- A slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Fainting (syncope) or near fainting
COMPLICATIONS CAUSED BY ARRHYTHMIA
When your heart quivers (bergetar), it’s unable to pump blood effectively, which can cause blood to collect.
This can cause formation of blood clots.
If a clot escapes, it can travel from your heart to your brain, blocking blood flow, causing a stroke.
Certain medications, such as blood thinners, can greatly lower your risk of stroke or damage to other organs caused by blood clots.
Your doctor will determine if a blood-thinning medication is suitable for you, depending on your type of arrhythmia and your risk of blood clots.
Heart failure can result if your heart is pumping ineffectively for a prolonged period due to a bradycardia or tachycardia, such as atrial fibrillation.
Sometimes controlling the rate of an arrhythmia that’s causing heart failure can improve your heart’s function.
TREATMENT FOR ARRHYTHMIA
How your arrhythmia will be treated will depend on whether it is a fast or slow arrhythmia or heart block. Any underlying causes of your arrhythmia, such as heart failure, will need to be treated as well.
The treatments used for arrhythmias according to UK’s National Health Service, includes:
- medication – to stop or prevent an arrhythmia or control the rate of an arrhythmia
- cardioversion – a treatment that uses electricity to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm while you are sedated
- catheter ablation – a keyhole treatment while you are sedated that carefully destroys the dead tissue in your heart that causes the arrhythmia
- pacemaker – a small device containing its own battery that is implanted in your chest while you are sedated; it produces electrical signals to do the work of the natural pacemaker in your heart to help it beat at a normal rate
- ICD – a device similar to a pacemaker that oversees your heart rhythm and shocks your heart back into a normal rhythm whenever this is needed
PREVENTION OF ARRHYTHMIA
To prevent heart arrhythmia, it’s important to live a heart-healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy lifestyle may include:
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
- Increasing your physical activity
- Avoiding smoking
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol
- Reducing stress, as intense stress and anger can cause heart rhythm problems
- Using over-the-counter medications with caution, as some cold and cough medications contain stimulants that may cause a rapid heartbeat