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Heart arrhythmia is the medical for an improper heartbeat. The electrical activity that coordinates your heartbeat can be disrupted by medical conditions, leading to a heartbeat that is either too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregular. Arrhythmias can occur without causing any symptoms or indications. During a normal examination, your doctor may discover that you have arrhythmia before you do. However, having noticeable signs and symptoms does not always imply that you have heart disease.
Symptoms of an arrhythmia may include:
- You feel a flutter in your chest.
- A pounding heart (tachycardia, or a heartbeat over 100 BPM)
- A sluggish heartbeat (bradycardia or a heartbeat under 60 BPM)
- Pain in the chest
- Breathing problems
Other signs and symptoms could include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Syncope (fainting) or near-fainting
Arrhythmia may be caused by several conditions and factors, not all of which are dangerous. For instance, your heartbeat may slow to under 60 BPM while you sleep. In some cases, however, arrhythmia can be a sign of a serious medical condition. Some common causes of arrhythmia include:
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Scarring of heart tissue
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Thyroid conditions (hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism)
- Coronary artery disease (blocked arteries)
- Changes to the heart muscle
- Sleep apnea
Talk to a health care provider if you are experiencing, or frequently experience, an irregular heartbeat. Arrhythmia can lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated, so seek medical attention for appropriate testing.
Depending on the cause of your arrhythmia, medical treatment may or may not be needed. During your appointment, talk to your health care provider about treatment options and what plan may be right for you.