Arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, are a problem with the speed or pattern of the heartbeat. When a person experiences an arrhythmia, Brooklyn cardiologists say the heart beats too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia) or in an unusual rhythm. When arrhythmias are severe or last a long period of time, the heart may not be able to pump an adequate amount of blood throughout the body. Without adequate blood for nourishment, the brain, heart and other organs may become damaged.
The heart has a natural pacemaker made of rapidly firing cells in the sinus node, but most of the heart’s tissues can create electrical energy that can generate a heartbeat. Abnormal electrical currents or blocked electrical pathways in the heart can cause irregular heartbeats.
Anyone can experience arrhythmias, and the risk becomes more common with age. There are other factors that put particular individuals at larger risk for arrhythmia such as too much caffeine, smoking, alcohol overuse, amphetamines and other drugs or medicines. Strong emotional stress and anger can also lead to arrhythmias in some people. Damage to the heart’s electrical system from heart attack or disease can also lead to arrhythmias.
Arrhythmias present a range of symptoms that can be unnoticeable to cardiovascular death. The most common signals of arrhythmia include:
Brooklyn cardiology experts warn of more serious symptoms including: