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Arrhythmias are abnormal or irregular heartbeats. They occur when the electrical impulses in your heart coordinate the natural rhythm incorrectly.
Most people have experienced an arrhythmia. However, you may have had an arrhythmia without any symptoms. Your doctor may be the first to notice signs of an arrhythmia. This will probably be during a routine physical exam when they listen to your heartbeat or perform an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Symptoms of arrhythmias are varied and can indicate either a harmless condition or one that needs immediate attention. To be safe, you should consult your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
The most common signs and symptoms of arrhythmias include:
More serious symptoms include:
The symptoms of arrhythmias are too often ignored. You should always consult your doctor if you have symptoms of arrhythmias. Some symptoms signal a need for immediate care. Additionally, some symptoms may be caused by other problems that require urgent diagnosis.
The following arrhythmias are medical emergencies. They must be treated as soon as possible. If left untreated, they can damage your heart or brain, or even cause death.
Supraventricular arrhythmias cause a fast heart rate. They require immediate emergency care.
These arrhythmias start in the ventricles and usually require immediate medical care.
The main symptom of this arrhythmia is a slow heartbeat. The body relies on consistent blood flow, so a slow heartbeat can be a serious problem. If the brain doesn’t get enough blood, it may lead to unconsciousness. A slow heart rate may not be a problem for people who are fit. But in others, it can cause a serious condition like a heart attack, chemical imbalance, or an underactive thyroid gland.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: Jun 01, 2016: Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, COI
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