Arrhythmia: The Way Ahead

20-05-2021 12:55:19
By : Shrishti Nagar

An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slowly, or with an irregular rhythm. When a heart beats too fast, the condition is called tachycardia. When a heart beats too slowly, the condition is called bradycardia.

Arrhythmia is caused by changes in heart tissue and activity or in the electrical signals that control your heartbeat. These changes can be caused by damage from disease, injury, or genetics. Often there are no symptoms, but some people feel an irregular heartbeat. You may feel faint or dizzy or have difficulty breathing.

The most common test used to diagnose an arrhythmia is an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). Your doctor will run other tests as needed. She or he may recommend medicines, placement of a device that can correct an irregular heartbeat, or surgery to repair nerves that are overstimulating the heart. If arrhythmia is left untreated, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. This can damage the heart, the brain, or other organs.


Arrhythmia is caused by changes to heart tissue. It can also occur suddenly as a result of exertion or stress, imbalances in the blood, medicines, or problems with electrical signals in the heart. Typically, an arrhythmia is set off by a trigger, and the irregular heartbeat can continue if there is a problem in the heart. Sometimes the cause of an arrhythmia is unknown.

Signs, Symptoms, and Complications


An arrhythmia may not cause any obvious signs or symptoms. You may notice something that occurs only occasionally, or your symptoms may become more frequent over time. Keep track of when and how often arrhythmia occurs, what you feel, and whether these things change over time. They are all important clues your doctor can use. If left untreated, arrhythmia can lead to life-threatening complications such as stroke, heart failure, or sudden cardiac arrest.

You may be able to feel a slow or irregular heartbeat or notice pauses between heartbeats. If you have palpitations, you may feel like your heart skipped a beat or may notice it pounding or racing. These are all symptoms of arrhythmia.

More serious signs and symptoms include:

·         Anxiety

·         Blurred vision

·         Chest pain

·         Difficulty breathing

·         Fainting or nearly fainting

·         Foggy thinking

·         Fatigue

·         Sweating

·         Weakness, dizziness, and light-headedness

Ways to stop heart palpitations

Heart palpitations can cause a sensation of a pounding heart or a racing pulse. Palpitations can also feel like a fluttering feeling in the chest or like the heart has skipped a beat. While medical attention may be necessary, some home remedies can help to stop palpitations.

Lifestyle factors can cause heart palpitations. Less frequently, an underlying medical condition is responsible. Palpitations can result from the following conditions, and they require a doctor’s care:

·         thyroid problems

·         abnormal heart rhythms, known as arrhythmias

·         atrial fibrillation

·         heart failure, in rare cases

Home remedies to relieve heart palpitations

1. Perform relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation, may help to reduce palpitations. Stress can have many ill effects on a person’s health. It can induce palpitations or make them worse. It may help to try the following relaxation techniques:

·         meditation

·         deep breathing

·         journaling

·         yoga

·         spending time outdoors

·         exercising

·         taking short breaks from work or school

·         using a method of guided imagery, these are available to purchase online

2. Reduce or eliminate stimulant intake: Symptoms may become noticeable after using a stimulant. Not all stimulants will cause palpitations in everyone. The following contain stimulants:

·         tobacco products

·         illegal drugs

·         some cold and cough medications

·         caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and soda

·         appetite suppressants

·         marijuana

·         some mental health drugs

·         some high blood pressure medications

3. Stimulate the vagus nerve: The vagus nerve connects the brain to the heart, and stimulating it can help to calm palpitations. A person can do so by:

·         holding the breath and pushing down, as if making a bowel movement

·         coughing

·         placing ice or a cold, damp towel on the face for a few seconds

·         gagging

·         splashing cold water on the face

·         chanting “Om”

·         taking a cold shower

Before trying this method consult a doctor, who can advise on the best technique.

4. Keep electrolytes balanced: Electrolytes are molecules found throughout the body that help to transfer electrical signals. These signals play a significant role in regulating the heart rate. A person can boost the number of electrolytes in their body by eating foods rich in sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium.  A normal diet usually provides a sufficient source of sodium.

The following foods have high potassium contents: potatoes, bananas, avocados, spinach. Dairy products and dark, leafy greens are rich in calcium. Magnesium is also found in these vegetables, as well as in nuts and fish.

It may be tempting to attain these nutrients by taking supplements. A person should consult a doctor before trying any supplements, particularly if they are also taking prescription medication.

5. Keep hydrated

When the body is dehydrated, the heart has to work harder to circulate blood, which can cause heart palpitations.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. The recommended amount will vary, depending on age, sex, and whether a person is pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A person should drink a full cup or glass of water when:

·         their urine is dark

·         their heart rate increases

·         they have dry mouth

·         they feel thirsty

·         they have a headache

·         they feel dizzy

·         the skin is dry or pruny

6. Avoid excessive alcohol use

Alcohol is a depressant and does not typically raise the heart rate.

While drinking in moderation is not necessarily problematic, some research indicates that even one drink per day can increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation. A palpitating heart is just one symptom of this condition.

7. Exercise regularly

Walking can help to strengthen the heart and reduce palpitations. Exercise can improve overall cardiovascular health and restore the heart’s natural rhythm. It can also help to reduce stress and anxiety. Cardiovascular exercise helps to strengthen the heart, which can prevent or reduce palpitations.

Beneficial exercises include:

·         walking

·         jogging

·         running

·         biking

·         swimming

However, exercise may trigger palpitations in some people, and it is important to identify and avoid problematic exercises. Consult a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

When to see a doctor

See a doctor if heart palpitations tend to last longer than a few seconds. A doctor can determine whether an underlying condition is causing the palpitations.

These conditions commonly include:

·         heart disease

·         thyroid issues

·         anxiety

·         heart failure

·         heart valve disease



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