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What is an Arrhythmia?

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Cardiovascular Conditions: Arrhythmias

Caring for your heart includes staying in tune with your heart rate. Keeping track of your normal resting rate and when it changes can give insight into your heart health. It also makes it easier to identify potential issues and spot a cardiovascular problem, such as an arrhythmia, sooner.

Most adults will have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute. It will change if you are doing physical activity or sleeping. However, a frequent irregular heartbeat or rhythm is a problem known as an arrhythmia. The heart might beat too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular rhythm. An arrhythmia can also cause issues with pumping enough blood to your body and affect your overall health.

Symptoms of Arrhythmias

Heart palpations are the most common sign of an arrhythmia. It might feel like there is fluttering in your chest, or that your heart missed a beat. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute also shares the following list of symptoms that can be associated with heart rhythm problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing, or gasping during sleep
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Tiredness or weakness1

A broad range of symptoms are associated with arrhythmias, and it is possible that the signs are not always obvious, so be sure to speak with your doctor about any concerns.

Types of Arrhythmias

There are several different types of arrhythmias that can affect people. They can also differ based upon which part of the heart is causing a slow, fast, or irregular heart rate and rhythm. The two basic kinds of arrhythmias to know are Bradycardia and Tachycardia. Bradycardia is when the heart is too slow, less than 60 beats per minute at rest, and Tachycardia is when the heart rate is too fast, more than 100 beats per minute at rest.

The most common type of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation, which causes the heart to beat much faster than normal, and irregularly. A patient’s heart that has atrial fibrillation can beat 100 to 200 times per minute. It is estimated that this type of arrhythmia will affect more than 12 million people in the U.S. by 20302. The Queen’s Health System’s Dr. Alamelu Ramamurthi shares more about atrial fibrillation in this episode of Ask A Specialist.

Queen’s Heart Institute offers patient-centered care and highly specialized therapies for those suffering from arrhythmia. A collaborative multidisciplinary care team can help determine the best treatments.To learn more about arrhythmias and the Queen’s Heart Institute electrophysiology services, visit Queens.org.


1https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/arrhythmias/symptoms

2https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/atrial_fibrillation.htm

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