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Heart Arrhythmia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention
What is Arrhythmia?
Meaning of heart arrhythmia is there in its nomenclature itself - heart beats that tend to miss the regular rhythm or in simpler terms, irregular heartbeats are classified as arrhythmic (also called dysrhythmia).

Arrhythmia is different from 'abnormal heart rate (which normally is 50-100 beats per minute). Arrhythmias can occur with a normal heart rate, as well as with heart rates that are slow (called bradyarrhythmias) or rapid (called tachyarrhythmias).

In the United States alone, more than 850,000 people are hospitalized for an arrhythmia each year (source: medicinenet).

What causes Arrhythmia?

Following are the common causes of Arrhythmia:

Some less serious causes:
  • *Electrolyte imbalances in blood
    *During recovery from a heart surgery
    *It can sometimes occur in perfectly healthy hearts as well

Some serious causes:
  • *Coronary artery disease (plaque depositions etc)
    *Changes in heart muscles or cardiomyopathy

What are the symptoms of Arrhythmia?
Following are the common symptoms of Arrhythmia:
  • *Palpitations
    *Shortness of breath

Diagnosis of Arrhythmia:
Arrhythmia diagnosis is easy to perform using the state of art yet simplistic and cost effective instruments. Following are various diagnostic measures:

a) ECG
b) Holter Monitoring
c) Stress Test
d) Electrophysiology study (EPS)
e) Echo Test
f) Head-up tilt table test
g) Event monitoring

Treatment of Arrhythmia:
Treatment of Arrhythmia is administered based on type and severity of Arrhythmia. It is often a combination of prescribed drugs and life style changes (or surgical intervention in severe causes).

Following two categories of drugs are often prescribed:

∆ Antiarrhythmic drugs:
Such drugs come under the category of beta-blockers and help in controlling the heart rate

∆ Anticoagulant or antiplatelet therapy:
These drugs are aimed at reducing the risk of clot formation (and hence a stroke). Warfarin, Aspirin and Pradaxa are the common prescriptions in this category.

Lifestyle changes that are must for an Arrhythmic person:

1. Limited alcohol intake
2. Quitting smoking
3. Limited caffeine intake
4. No intake of stimulating substances (cough syrups and medicine for cold are also stimulating substances!)

A News that triggered the need for this thread:
LaMarcus Aldridge, an American professional basketball player, playing for San Antonio Spurs of NBA, had to go for a leave of indefinite period after experiencing heart Arrhythmia. This has been on news all around and has suddenly lead to a surge of queries about Arrhythmia. He is currently undergoing tests to ascertain the severity of the event. Best of health wished his way.
Sunil Nagpal
MS(Research) Scholar, IIT Delhi (Alumnus)
Advisor for the Biotech Students portal (
Computational Researcher in BioSciences at a leading MNC

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