This is a heart condition in which abnormal heart rhythm occurs. It means that your heart beats too fast when you rest or not beating regularly. Arrhythmia varies from harmless to serious and can be with or without symptoms. Fortunately, different treatment methods are available to treat arrhythmia but not all types need them.

What is Arrhythmia?

This heart condition is also called dysrhythmia and means abnormal heartbeat. Arrhythmia can appear in different parts of your heart and can be too fast, too slow, or irregular. A normal regular heart rhythm is vital because the heart supplies your body with blood which contains nutrients and oxygen.

Is Dysrhythmia a Serious Health Condition?

While some arrhythmias are harmless and do not need any treatments, others may increase your risk for cardiac arrest. To get a better understanding of what type of dysrhythmia you experience, it is advised to consult your healthcare professional.

Types of Arrhythmia

  • Bradyarrhythmias and Junctional Rhythms – In such cases, a heart’s conduction system problem occurs. For example sinoatrial (SA) node, atrioventricular (AV) node, or His-Purkinje network.
  • Ventricular Arrhythmias – It usually begins in your heart’s ventricles or lower chambers.
  • Supraventricular Arrhythmias – This type of arrhythmia commonly starts in the heart’s upper chambers (atria).

About 1.5% to 5% of people have arrhythmia but it is hard to get the exact number because many people do not have symptoms. Furthermore, Atrial Fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia in the U.S.


Immediately contact your healthcare provider if you notice any of the following symptoms. For example:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness


Check below the arrhythmia causes:

In most cases, dysrhythmia occurs due to a problem with your heart’s valves, muscles, or arteries.

Risk Factors

There are different factors that you can avoid to prevent or decrease the risk of arrhythmia. Examples include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Limit or avoid alcoholic beverages
  • Limit caffeine drinks and foods
  • Stimulants including cold medicines or herbal supplements
  • Manage existing health problems (such as high blood pressure)
  • Try to lose weight if you are a person high in body weight
  • Keep under control your blood sugar
  • Sleep apnea

Maybe you are interested in what happens if you are not treating this heart condition. There are some complications that may occur if you leave dysrhythmia untreated including cardiac arrest, stroke, cardiomyopathy (weak heart muscle), and others. For more details talk with your physician.


A doctor can diagnose an arrhythmia during examination by taking your pulse and listening to your heart. Your healthcare provider may also ask you about symptoms and perform a physical examination.

Check below some examples of tests that help to diagnose arrhythmia:

  • Blood tests (this test helps to verify your electrolyte levels or genetic problems)
  • ECG or EKG (electrocardiogram)
  • Ambulatory monitors
  • Stress test
  • Echocardiogram
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Electrophysiology study (EPS)
  • Heart MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Computed Tomography (CT)
  • Tilt table test and others


Commonly, arrhythmia treatment is based on the severity of dysrhythmia, response to treatment, other medicines you may use, existing diseases, age, and others. Check below some treatment options:

  • Devices
  • Surgery
  • Therapies
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medicines


In some circumstances, your cardiologist may insert a device during a procedure in the electrophysiology lab. Check below some examples:

  • Biventricular (B-V) pacemakers and defibrillators (also called cardiac resynchronization therapy or CRT) – Usually, used in people with heart failure and uncoordinated left ventricle contractions.
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) – This device helps in the treatment of ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. Both these heart conditions are life-threatening. ICD delivers energy to your heart muscle, which helps it beat in a normal pattern.
  • Permanent pacemaker – It helps your heart maintain a normal rhythm by sending small electrical impulses to your heart muscle.


In some cases, people with arrhythmia may need surgery. For example:

  • Surgery used to treat a heart disease that provokes arrhythmia (such as valve surgery or coronary artery bypass surgery)
  • Another surgery is called the maze procedure which is used when medicines and other procedures are not enough.
  • Rarely, minimally invasive or surgical methods are used to place a biventricular pacemaker on your heart.


Therapies are usually used alongside medicines. These help to treat or eliminate dysrhythmia. Examples include:

  • Pulmonary Vein Isolation – This procedure helps people with paroxysmal, persistent, or frequent atrial fibrillation.
  • Catheter Ablation – This is a catheter that sends high-frequency electrical energy to a tissue inside your heart that helps to interrupt abnormal heart rhythm. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
  • Cardioversion – This therapy involves an electrical impulse that allows your normal rhythm to restart.

Lifestyle Changes

The following lifestyle changes can help you to avoid or prevent arrhythmia. Check some examples below:

  • Do not use tobacco products
  • Manage your blood pressure and sugar
  • Quit alcohol use
  • Do not use caffeine or other stimulants
  • It is advised to maintain a healthy weight


Different medicines are available to treat this heart condition. However, to find one that will work best for you, it may need time. Check below some examples:

  • Medications that help to keep under control your heart rate.
  • Antiarrhythmic medications.
  • Anticoagulant or antiplatelet therapy (such as Warfarin or Aspirin). These medications help to decrease the risk of blood clots forming.
  • Drugs used to treat diseases that provoke abnormal heart rhythms.

Adverse Reactions to the Treatment

While some people with arrhythmia do not face any symptoms, they may occur. Examples include:

Arrhythmia Medicines

  • Allergic reactions
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Bleeding
  • Upset stomach


  • Skin bruises or rash
  • Embolization of blood clots

Catheter Ablation

  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Injury to a vein or heart tissue
  • Stroke

Pulmonary Vein Isolation

  • Injury to your heart, vein, or esophagus
  • Infections or stroke


  • Device malfunction
  • Collapsed lung


  • Myocardial infarction
  • Stroke
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Need for a pacemaker

Frequently Asked Questions

How soon after treatment will I feel better?

Commonly, you’ll see the improvements in your arrhythmia within 2-3 weeks. However, it depends on the severity of the dysrhythmia, response to treatment, age, weight, and others. Ask your healthcare professional for more details.

When should I go to the emergency room (ED)?

In case you experience any of the following symptoms, immediately contact your healthcare professional. Examples include:

  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Fainting
  • Breathlessness

What foods and drinks should I avoid with this heart disease?

Generally, you should limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine because both of them can provoke arrhythmias. Discuss with your physician for more details.

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