What is Arrhythmia?

A healthy, properly functioning heart has a steady, predictable rhythm even during periods of exertion. With the condition called arrhythmia,  the heart is beating with an abnormal beat which can be described as a "racing" or "skipped beats".  A common example of arrhythmia is termed atrial fibrillation (Afib).  This rhythm is an altered sequence of electrical signals in the heart causing the atria, the upper chambers, to contract erratically. Atrial fibrillation can put excess stress on the heart and lead to serious problems such as:

  • Clot formation due to pooling blood within the heart. If the clots travel to the brain, you could suffer from a stroke.
  • An increased risk for developing angina and suffering from heart attacks.

Symptoms and Risk Factors Associated with Arrhythmia?

Typical symptoms of arrhythmia include shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, heart palpitations, and chest pains. Risk factors that increase your chances of developing arrhythmia include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary heart disease
  • A history of heart attacks or heart valve disorders
  • Lifestyle factors such as obesity, sustained heavy drinking, binge drinking, and the use of stimulants such as tobacco and caffeine

Furthermore, many experts believe a link exists between arrhythmia and sleep apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by periods of blocked breathing and lowered blood oxygen levels. If you suffer from arrhythmia, you may want to be checked for sleep apnea. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may want to visit your Acadiana cardiologist to get checked for arrhythmia.

How Does My Cardiologist Treat Arrhythmia?

After diagnosing your arrhythmia using an electrocardiogram, prolonged cardiac monitoring, physical exam, cardiac testing, or a combination of the three, your cardiologist will recommend a treatment that can help you return to a normal, active life. For instance, he or she may recommend medicines that thin the blood to prevent clot formation, slow the heart rate, or control the rhythm. Your physician may also suggest procedures such as a cardioversion, which utilizes an electric shock to restore the heart’s proper rhythm, or catheter ablation, which aims to terminate the arrhythmic electrical impulse responsible for the problem.

Talk to Your Acadiana Cardiologists About Your Heart Health

To schedule an appointment with Heart & Vascular Associates of Acadiana, please contact our office at (377) 534-4356. Our four offices proudly serve patients in the Lafayette community as well as the entire Acadiana region.