Arrhythmias

Alternative Names

Dysrhythmias; Abnormal heart rhythms; Bradycardia; Tachycardia

Definition of Arrhythmias

An arrhythmia is a disorder of the heart rate (pulse) or heart rhythm, such as beating too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregularly.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Normally, your heart is able to pump blood out to your body without working any harder than is needed.

Symptoms

An arrhythmia may be present all of the time or it may come and go. You may or may not feel symptoms when the arrhythmia is present. Or, you may only notice symptoms when you are more active.

Signs and tests

The doctor will listen to your heart with a stethoscope and feel your pulse. Your blood pressure may be low or normal.

Treatment

When an arrhythmia is serious, you may need urgent treatment to restore a normal rhythm. This may include:

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome depends on several factors:

Review

Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Director, Northwestern Clinic Echocardiography Lab, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/5/2010

Heart, section through the middle
Heart, front view
Atrioventricular block,  EKG tracing
Normal heart rhythm
Bradycardia
Ventricular tachycardia
Conduction system of the heart

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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