Irregular Heart Beat / Arrhythmia

The Heart relies on an internal electrical “wiring” system to maintain a normal and regular heartbeat that can respond to the person’s activity level. Malfunction can result in the heart beating too fast, too slowly, or irregularly.

An irregular heartbeat could be a sign of Atrial Fibrillation, where the top 2 chambers of the heart cannot pump blood properly, leading to blood stagnation and potential clot formation. This can result in a Stroke if the clot travels to the brain. Stroke is a permanent condition where part of the brain is damaged due to a blood clot, leading to paralysis, difficulty speaking or even swallowing.

Symptoms of Irregular Heartbeat/Arrhythmia are:

  • Palpitations
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Skipped beats/Missed beats/Double beats
  • Breathlessness
  • Decreased energy/exercise capacity

The type of irregular heartbeat must first be confirmed with ECG (12-Lead Electrocardiography) or 24-Hour Ambulatory ECG (Holter). Nowadays, there are newer devices that can perform continuous automatic monitoring and recording for up to 5 days.

A heartbeat that is too slow can lead to collapse and sudden death. The treatment may require a Pacemaker implantation.

A heartbeat that is too fast can be suppressed temporarily by medications. Sometimes this is a side-effect of a different disease such as a Thyroid gland disorder. The symptoms would then improve when the Thyroid disorder is treated. Sometimes fast heartbeat is due to activation of extra or abnormal electrical circuits within the heart. A procedure called “Radio-Frequency Ablation” would then be an option.

In the case of Atrial Fibrillation, medication make the blood less likely to form clots (“blood-thinners”) may be required to reduce the risk of Stroke.

**The above information is for general knowledge only and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a doctor if you have any questions or symptoms.