Blame it on the writers and producers of romance films – that every time we hear the expression “fluttering heart” or any statement that contains the words “flutter”, “racing”, “beating fast”, and “heart”, we immediately associate it to the feeling of being in love. The fact is, we have been so familiar with the effects of love to a certain part of the human anatomy – the heart – that we seem to forget one important thing: not all that flutters is good. Experts at the https://cadenceheart.sg/ in Singapore, who have dedicated their lives to helping people with cardiac problems, will tell you that the best thing to do if you experience any random fluttering of the heart is to seek medical attention immediately. As un-romantic as that may sound, it could be just the thing to save your life – untreated arrhythmia, or uneven heartbeat, may lead to serious health consequences, some even life-threatening.
Arrhythmia is the medical term for a heart that beats irregularly. These heart rhythm issues or heart arrhythmias happen when the electrical signals that coordinate and sync heart’s beat suddenly malfunction. The faulty signaling then causes the heart to beat too slowly (bradycardia) or too fast (tachycardia). While most arrhythmias are harmless, some might indicate a more serious heart problem, or may require treatment, so it is always best to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
To learn more about heart arrythmias, this article will discuss the following:
- Types of arrhythmias
- Symptoms and risk factors to watch out for
- Diagnosing arrhythmias
Types of arrhythmias
Two types of arrhythmias have already been mentioned in this article – bradycardia and tachycardia. Bradycardia refers to a condition where the heart’s beat is so slow – less than 60 beats per minute – that it is not capable of pumping enough blood to sustain the body’s needs.There are two types of bradycardia: conduction block and sick sinus syndrome. Conduction or heart block occurs when electric signals from the atria get delayed or blocked from reaching the ventricles. This causes the heartbeats to either slow down or stop. Sick sinus syndrome, on the other hand, refers to a condition where the sinus node in the heart fails to work properly, which then causes the heart to beat more slowly than usual. This is more common in older people and patients with coronary heart disease.
The latter, or tachycardia, is the opposite. It occurs when the heart beats too fast, usually in excess of 100 beats per minute. For some people, tachycardia is the body’s normal reaction to physical activity, but for others, it could be a sign of an underlying medical problem. Tachycardia is also further classified into two types: ventricular (where the problem lies with the heart’s bottom chambers) and supraventricular (where the problem occurs in the heart’s upper chambers). Supraventricular tachycardia is not typically considered as life threatening, while ventricular tachycardia can be extremely dangerous for a person. Ventricular fibrillation is a life-threatening condition that may lead to a drop in blood pressure, fainting, or death.
There is also another type of arrhythmia called premature heartbeat. This refers to the extra beats that we experience one at a time or sometimes, in patterns. If you have ever experienced the feeling of your heart skipping a beat, then you know what a premature heartbeat is like. Your doctor will tell you that the extra beats are nothing that you should worry about and that they rarely lead to more serious heart conditions. You are likely to get premature heartbeats while resting in some cases, these are caused by rigorous physical activity, stress, or stimulants like nicotine or coffee.
Symptoms and risk factors to watch out for
Now that we have discussed the types of arrhythmias, let us discuss the symptoms and risk factors that you should pay attention to. In most cases, heart arrhythmias do not display any signs or symptoms. A doctor might only notice it during a routine checkup or when a patient is being examined for other health reasons. The general indicators of arrhythmias are the following:
- A too fast heartbeat (tachycardia) or a too slow one (bradycardia)
- The feeling of the heart skipping a beat (premature heartbeat)
- Palpitations or a fluttering/pounding in the chest
- Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Sudden weakness or fatigue
- Mild to moderate chest pains
- Anxiety, sweating, and/or fainting (or almost fainting)
A person can have arrhythmia even if his or her heart is healthy – that is another fact. But you should also consider going to the doctor for a heart checkup as soon as possible if you have any of these risk factors.
- Old age – The older a person is, the more susceptible he or she is to heart arrythmias
- Congenital conditions – People who are born with certain medical conditions are more likely to experience arrhythmias than those who are born without.
- Existing heart disease – Heart diseases like high blood pressure and coronary heart disease may put people at risk for certain types of arrhythmias. Scarring in the heart muscles or abnormal tissue deposits may also cause issues with the heart’s electrical pathways, which can ultimately lead to tachycardia or bradycardia.
- Chemicals – Calcium, potassium, and magnesium are essential in the heart’s normal function but if the level of these minerals in the body is either too low or too high, heart arrhythmias may occur as a result. Recreational drugs, addictive substances like nicotine and alcohol, and even some heart medications can also trigger arrhythmias.
Diagnosing arrhythmias in Singapore
Some of the recommended diagnostic tests for arrhythmias include:
- Chest x-rays
- Electrocardiogram or ECG – This device can record details about your heart rate and rhythm. You may opt to have an ECG done while resting, exercising (running on a treadmill for example), or have your doctor attach a portable ECG device that can monitor your heart’s electrical activities for a longer period of time.
- Tilt test – This test can determine if certain body positions cause or trigger the condition.
- Electrophysiology studies or EPS – This involves inserting a catheter into the heart to record its electrical activities and its response to specific stimuli.
Contact us at the Cadence Heart Centre if you have any questions about heart arrythmias. Our expert team will be happy to provide you with all the information you need.
Cadence Heart Centre – Dr Devinder Singh
Mt Elizabeth Hospital, 3 Mount Elizabeth #14-13
Mt Elizabeth Medical Centre, Singapore 228510
(65) 8318 9884
(65) 6369 8789
(65) 6369 2789