Arrhythmia Minor Major

Arrhythmia refers to a condition in which a person’s heart beats at a rate that is slower or faster than normal. People who have skipping or irregular heartbeats are also said to have a type of heart arrhythmia.

Some people with arrhythmia do not have severe conditions, the arrhythmia may not always be present or may not cause any other symptoms or discomfort. An occasional irregular heartbeat, or heart palpitation, is not cause for concern.

However, some cases of arrhythmia are quite severe and can cause dizziness or shortness of breath. See a doctor if symptoms occur or to ask questions about arrhythmia.

Minor Heart Arrhythmia

Most adults have a normal heart rate of about 60 to 100 beats per minute. Children typically have higher heart rates than adults.

Changes in heart rate can occur for a number of reasons, and unless the change causes other symptoms, or if they occur in someone with a history of heart disease, these changes are not cause for alarm. Some common events that can change heartbeat rhythm include:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • cough and cold medication
  • diet pills
  • exercise
  • illness or fever
  • smoking
  • stress or pain.

Dietary supplements can also cause heart arrhythmia, and can in some cases be dangerous. Ephedra was taken off the market by the Food and Drug Administration for this very reason. However, many other dietary supplements are still on the market and may have similar effects on heartbeat rhythm. Talk to a doctor for information on the safety of specific supplements or to ask questions and express concerns.

Pregnant women often experience minor arrhythmia during pregnancy, and this is not a cause for immediate concern unless the woman has a history of heart problems.

Athletes and elderly people generally have slower heartbeat rhythms than most people, but this is also normal unless the person in question has a history of heart disease.

The two types of minor arrhythmia are:

  • Tachycardia: Speeding up of the heart rate. Although most cases of tachycardia are minor, severe cases that require medication, such as ventricular tachycardia, do occur. Tachycardia often acts up when people are under stress or ingest certain substances, like caffeine or alcohol, so limitations are often recommended by doctors to control the condition.
  • Bradycardia: Slowing down of the heart rate. Symptoms can occur, but this condition is usually not life threatening. Bradycardia patients may need to use a pacemaker.

Major Heart Arrhythmia

The most common major heart arrhythmia conditions are known as fibrillations.

Arterial fibrillation increases the risk of blood clots in the heart, and also increases the risk of stroke and blood clots in the lungs. People who have heart disease or a history of heart problems should be aware of any heartbeat changes, as they may be an indication of arterial fibrillation.

Ventricular arrhythmias can also become serious. Ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation can both be life threatening. These conditions make it difficult for the heart to pump enough blood to the brain or the rest of the body.

Both conditions involve the extreme speeding up of the heartbeat, but ventricular tachycardia is a fast and irregular beat, while ventricular fibrillation is fast and regular. Fainting and heart attack symptoms usually result from these conditions, so medical attention should be sought as soon as possible. Chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness and fainting or weakness are also symptoms of these types of arrhythmia.

Major arrhythmia can also be caused by taking illegal drugs or prescription drugs in high quantities.

Medical professionals should be able to detect arrhythmia, whether major or minor, during checkups using a stethoscope. Ask a doctor about any heartbeat irregularities or symptoms that concern you.