How does the heart flutter?
Before recognizing an arrhythmia, it is important to understand how the heart works. Structurally, the heart is divided into the right atrium, right ventricle, left ventricle, and left atrium. After entering the heart from the right atrium, blood flows to the right ventricle for gas exchange with the lungs (which increases the oxygen content of the blood) and then to all parts of the body.
To accomplish this, the heart needs a strong contraction force, which comes from an electrical current in the heart. The source of the current is the pacing current from the sinus node (SA node) of the right atrium, which is received by the atrioventricular node (AV node) and then transmitted from the His bundle to the ventricles, causing the heart to beat normally.
What is an arrhythmia?
Under normal conditions, the human heart beats at 60 to 100 beats per minute. When the heart’s electrical conduction system is disrupted by various factors, resulting in a heartbeat that is too fast, too slow, or irregular, it is known as an “arrhythmia.
What happens with arrhythmias?
1.Slower heart rhythm
If your heart rhythm slows down, you may experience symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, palpitations, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The slow heart rhythm may be caused by a problem with the sinus node, which is unable to discharge properly (sick sinus syndrome), or the atrioventricular node, which is unable to send electrical currents throughout the heart (atrioventricular block).
2.Rapid heart rate
Arrhythmias can also be characterized by a fast heart rhythm, with symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, palpitations, shock and, in severe cases, sudden death.
Tachyarrhythmias are associated with abnormal electrical discharges in the heart and can manifest in different ways depending on where they occur:
The main cause is the ventricular rate impulse, which results from abnormal discharge from the ventricles, causing the heart to beat rapidly.
There are two types of atrial arrhythmias: atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation. In atrial flutter, the heart beats fast but with a regular rhythm; in atrial fibrillation, the heart beats fast with an irregular rhythm.
When the heart beats irregularly, it is called “premature contraction” and the patient may experience symptoms such as palpitations and chest discomfort.
Under normal circumstances, heart contraction occurs when the sinus node sends an electric current to the atria, which then leads to the ventricles, which then contract. If the conduction system of the ventricles is abnormal and the heart beats on its own before it receives the signal from the atria, an irregular heartbeat occurs.
In addition, some people have coronary artery disease or heart valve disease, and when they are in a certain situation (such as emotional changes, alcohol abuse, intense exercise, etc.), it may cause the atria to produce premature contraction phenomenon, which can also cause an irregular heartbeat.
What are the complications?
If you have an arrhythmia, your heart may not be able to eject blood properly, which can cause blood to pool in your heart and form clots. If the blood clots travel with the blood, they can travel to the brain and increase the risk of stroke.
If the heart beats abnormally for a long time, heart function will also be affected, which may lead to heart failure in the long run.
Risk Factors in Daily Life
Risk factors for arrhythmias are hidden in everyday life and can put your body at risk for the disease if you are not careful:
1.Obesity (BMI over 27 is a risk for obesity)
2.Medications, such as caffeine or the asthma drug theophylline
3.Heart disease, such as high blood pressure, heart attack, mitral valve regurgitation, etc.
4.metabolic abnormalities such as hyperthyroidism, hypotension, hypoglycemia, etc.
5.Electrolyte imbalance, e.g. high potassium ion concentration in the body can lead to arrhythmia.
7.Sinus node degeneration
10.Stimulants, drugs (e.g., amphetamines, heroin)
13.Chronic lung disease like emphysema
What is the best way to improve it?
The easiest way to improve and prevent arrhythmias is to adjust your daily lifestyle:
1.Maintain emotional stability and manage stress
2.Control your weight
3.Quit smoking and avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages
4.Eat a well-balanced diet with a regular intake of the six main food groups and no binge eating.
5.Take your medications as directed to avoid drug abuse
6.If you have a chronic disease, visit a healthcare provider for regular checkups and follow-up.
Tips for measuring your heartbeat
It is difficult to detect an arrhythmia early unless you measure your own heartbeat or have symptoms of an arrhythmia.
Therefore, measuring your own heartbeat (pulse) is a good way to detect arrhythmias early. You can do this by putting the index and middle fingers of your dominant hand together and placing both fingers under the thumb of the other hand at the wrist (the other hand should be palm up).
Next, start counting the number of beats for one minute, write down the number of beats in one minute, and check to see if it is within the normal range. You can also check for a regular pulse.
How do doctors diagnose arrhythmias?
When people with suspected arrhythmia symptoms come to the hospital, the doctor will first take a medical history to understand the patient’s physical condition in order to make a further diagnosis.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is the most commonly used test for arrhythmias. The doctor will look at the ECG images to see if the patient’s heart rate and rhythm are normal.
If a hospital test does not reveal an arrhythmia, but the doctor still suspects that the patient may have an arrhythmia, he or she will ask the patient to bring a portable ECG monitor to record a full day’s ECG, and the doctor will then interpret the report.
4.Exercise Tolerance ECG
In this type of ECG test, the doctor will ask the patient to exercise on a treadmill equipped with a monitoring device and will observe the changes in the patient’s heartbeat during exercise to see if there are any signs of an arrhythmia.
Beat the disease with the right treatment
Medication is the first step in treating arrhythmias. Common medications include sodium blockers (e.g., lidocaine, propafenone, etc.), potassium blockers (e.g., amiodarone), beta-sympathomimetic blockers (e.g., metoprolol, propranolol, etc.), and antiarrhythmic drugs (e.g., adenosine).
Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate medication for your condition, and you should take your medication as directed.
A treatment in which a pacemaker is placed in the heart to stimulate the heart with timed electrical discharges to maintain a normal heartbeat. Pacemakers are primarily used to treat patients with bradycardia.
Implantation of a pacemaker requires surgery, which is performed under local anesthesia. After surgery, the patient should follow the instructions of the healthcare provider, and the arm on the implanted side will return to normal activity in about a month.
In addition, if you have a pacemaker, you should be aware that electrical devices can interfere with the operation of the pacemaker. You should avoid placing your cell phone near the pacemaker and stay away from high voltage towers, transformer boxes, large motors, and other places with strong magnetic fields.
If you need to undergo an MRI, external defibrillator, or extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, you should also avoid bringing the equipment into contact with the pacemaker. In general, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of any pacemaker use prior to treatment.
Transcatheter electrical ablation may be used if medications do not work or if the arrhythmia is life-threatening.
The patient should fast after midnight the day before the procedure. Before the procedure, the patient will receive local anesthesia (in the groin, chest, hands, and neck), and the physician will make an incision in the anesthetized area and insert a catheter into a blood vessel to guide it gradually to the heart.
When the catheter reaches the site of the abnormal heartbeat, the physician activates a heating device on the front of the catheter to cauterize the site of the abnormal heartbeat, thereby eliminating the arrhythmia. In addition, the catheter can also record the status of the heart murmur, so it is also a way to test for arrhythmias.
4.Don’t let your heart flutter when it’s right for you
Because arrhythmias can be fatal, if you experience symptoms of a suspected arrhythmia, you should go to the hospital and seek medical attention immediately before it becomes serious. Once diagnosed, you should also follow your doctor’s treatment instructions. Protecting your heart is the only way to protect your life.