Healthy Heart

What is an Arrhythmia?

What is an Arrhythmia?

Key Takeaways

  • All arrhythmias are associated with the disturbance in the heart conductive system.

An arrhythmia is the violations of the frequency, rhythm, and sequence of heart contractions.

Why do arrythmias occur?

  • Congenital anomalies or structural changes of the cardiac conduction system in various diseases, as well as autonomic
  • Hormonal or electrolyte disturbances 
  • Intoxication
  • Effects of some drugs 

Normally, an electrical impulse, having been born in the sinus node, is located in the right atrium in the atrioventricular node, goes from there along the His`s bundle, directly to the heart ventricles, causing their contraction.

Changes can occur in any part of the vascular system, causing a variety of rhythm and conduction disturbances. They come with neuro dystonia, myocarditis, cardiomyopathy, endocarditis, heart defects, coronary heart disease.
Arrhythmias are often the direct cause of death. The main methods of recognition is electrocardiography, sometimes in combination with a physical load (bicycle ergometry, treadmill) with transesophageal atrial pacing. Normally, sinus rhythm in most healthy adults at rest is 60 to 75 beats per minute.

What are the different types of arrhythmias?

Sinus tachycardia - sinus rhythm with a frequency of more than 90 to 100 beats per minute. In healthy people, it occurs during physical exertion and emotional excitement. It is often a manifestation of vegetative vascular dystonia. In this case it is reduced significantly with a breath-hold. More persistent sinus tachycardia occurs with fever, thyrotoxicosis, myocarditis, heart failure, anemia, pulmonary embolism. Patients may feel an extra heartbeat.

Sinus bradycardia - sinus rhythm with a frequency of less than 55 beats per minute. Often this condition is found in healthy individuals, especially physically trained individuals (at rest, during sleep), it also may be a manifestation of neurodystonia, but could occur in myocardial infarction with an increase in intracranial pressure, reduced thyroid function (hypothyroidism), while some viral diseases can occur under the influence of a number of drugs (cardiac glycosides, beta Adreno blockers, verapamil, reserpine).

Sometimes bradycardia manifested as discomfort in the heart followed by strong dizziness. Here, you feel like your heart is going to stop.

Extrasystoles - premature contractions of the heart in which the electrical impulse does not come from the sinus node, can accompany any heart disease, and half of the cases are not connected with that at all, reflecting the effect on the heart of vegetative and psycho-emotional disorders, as well as electrolyte balance in the body, drug treatment, alcohol and stimulants, and smoking.

Paroxysmal tachycardia - palpitations seizures where the heart rhythm is 140 to 240 beats per minute with a sudden distinct beginning and the same sudden end. The causes and mechanisms of development are similar to those with arrhythmia. It may be supraventricular (source pulses is above the atrioventricular connection) and ventricular (pulse source - in the muscle of the ventricles).

Fibrillation and atrial flutter (atrial fibrillation) - chaotic contraction of individual groups of muscle fibers, in which the atria as a whole are not compressed, and the ventricles are working irregularly, usually at a frequency of 100 to 150 beats per minute. Atrial fibrillation can be persistent or paroxysmal. It`s observed in mitral heart defects, coronary heart disease, thyrotoxicosis, and alcoholism.

Blockade of the heart - cardiac abnormalities associated with delay or termination of the pulse on the cardiac conduction system. There are different types of such a condition: sinoatrial blockade (at the level of the atrial muscle tissue), atrioventricular (at the level of the atrioventricular connection), and intraventricular.

All of the blockades can be persistent and transient. They can take place in myocarditis, cardiosclerosis, myocardial infarction, under the influence of certain drugs (cardiac glycosides, beta adrenoblockers, verapamil).

The congenital complete transverse blockade is very rare. The treatment of each of these types of arrhythmias is always prescribed by a qualified specialist (cardiologist). In general, all arrhythmias are associated with the disturbance in the heart conductive system.

The heart is a unique mechanism, which works cohesively if it has a proper blood supply to its muscle, if there is no any inflammation in the heart wall (endocarditis, myocarditis), and the heart sack (pericardium) is not suppressed or damaged.