Normally, your heart keeps a regular and steady rate and rhythm. If your heartbeat becomes irregular — too slow, too fast, or otherwise erratic — you are experiencing an arrhythmia.
Your irregular heartbeat could be minor and require no treatment. In fact, you may not feel any signs of an arrhythmia. If you do experience symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you have a serious problem.
However, arrhythmias can cause dangerous complications. Atrial fibrillation, a common type of arrhythmia, can lead to stroke if left untreated. You should get medical help right away if you are experiencing an irregular heartbeat.
With personal care, cardiologists at Dignity Health Central California can help you learn how to handle sudden symptoms of arrhythmia. Find a Doctor online and have an important discussion about your heart health and the risk of arrhythmia in Central California.
Spotting symptoms of arrhythmia
Some arrhythmias do not produce any noticeable signs. However, arrhythmia symptoms can take the form of:
- An irregular heartbeat
- A racing or slower than normal heartbeat
- Palpitations, the feeling that your heart is fluttering or skipping a beat
- Fainting or near fainting
Seek urgent medical care if you experience any of the following:
These can be a sign of a serious, potentially life-threatening condition.
Understanding what causes arrhythmia
Many conditions or behaviors can cause or lead to arrhythmia. You may also be genetically predisposed to experience arrhythmias. Heart-related causes of arrhythmias include:
- A heart attack in progress
- Scarring from a previous heart attack
- Cardiomyopathy, or other changes to your heart’s anatomy
- Blocked heart arteries (coronary artery disease)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Arrhythmia causes can also be unrelated to the heart — abuse of alcohol or illicit substances, diabetes, sleep apnea, smoking, stress, or thyroid problems. Certain medications, including over-the-counter cold and allergy drugs, can cause an arrhythmia or make an existing condition worse.
Arrhythmia treatment at Dignity Health Central California
Our personalized treatment strategies depend on the type and severity of your arrhythmia, and how it is affecting your quality of life. Medication is the most common approach to treatment. Commonly prescribed medicines include antiarrhythmics, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, and anticoagulants.
In more serious cases, implanted medical devices — pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator — or heart surgery may be needed.
Want an easier, more convenient, and secure way to manage your medical care? Sign up for the Dignity Health patient portal and get access to your personal health records, lab results, history of care, and more.
Dignity Health Central California provides expert diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmias in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.