Abnormal Heart Rhythms and Sudden Death Explained
February 15, 2023
Contributed by Kate Macmorn
People with abnormal heart rhythms need to find the causes behind the irregularities.
Understanding an abnormal rhythm, the different types, risk factors, and causes can help prevent a person from sudden death.
An abnormal heart rhythm, also known as a heart arrhythmia, is an irregular heartbeat that occurs when the signals in the heart are not firing properly.
Suppose the electrical pulses within the heart are firing out of synchronization. In that case, this can cause pain, fluttering, anxiety, dizziness, or nausea.
A heart arrhythmia is classed into two groups based on the speed of the heart:
Various types of tachycardia can affect a person’s heartbeat:
A heart that beats less than 60 beats per minute is considered a very slow heartbeat.
In some cases, this is very healthy and not considered a problem (ex: athletes, physical fitness, marines, etc.). However, in certain cases, bradycardia is a sign of one of the following illnesses:
Suppose you think that you may have tachycardia or bradycardia. In that case, there are signs and symptoms to look out for to help diagnose and treat your abnormal heartbeat.
Most heart arrhythmias cause a few noticeable symptoms, such as:
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be time to seek medical help and see a doctor. If it feels like your heart is beating irregularly, whether it be too fast or too slow, this is a warning sign that you should see a professional as soon as possible. Suppose you have more severe symptoms, like shortness of breath, chest pain, or lightheadedness. In that case, we recommend going to the emergency room.
There are many causes of an abnormal heartbeat.
Learning them can provide a patient with information regarding how a heart works, how to treat their illness, and how to prevent it from getting any worse.
The most common causes of an abnormal heartbeat are the following:
If you are experiencing an irregular heartbeat, this can indicate ventricular fibrillation or V-fib.
V-fib can lead to a very fast drop in blood pressure, resulting in fainting, slow pulse, and deteriorated breathing. If this occurs, someone may collapse in seconds.
Ventricular fibrillation is the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in patients with an abnormal heart rhythm.
If a person is not treated immediately through CPR and an automated external defibrillator, a person will be dead in just a few minutes. The uncoordinated heart rates will cause the blood to stop pumping, lowering the blood pressure, and damaging the body’s internal organs.
Understanding the different types of heart rhythms can help a person self-diagnose.
As soon as you notice any dangerous warning signs, you should seek professional medical help.
Recognizing and diagnosing tachycardia or bradycardia can be the difference between lessening risk factors and being a victim of sudden death.
Kate Macmorn, Communications Director, AMRI
Kate is the communications director for the American Medical Resource Institute. They’ve trained over a million healthcare professionals to study for, earn and maintain life support certifications that allow them to better respond to cardiac emergencies. You can find Kate practising her tennis skills when not in the office. She also frequents live music venues and is always looking for her next creative hobby.
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to promote quality healthcare.
The advice in our material is not meant to replace a qualified healthcare practitioner’s management of your specific condition.
Don’t hesitate to contact a health practitioner to discuss your condition or reach us directly here.
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