Living With An Abnormal Heart Rhythm
If youve been diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm, you may wonder how serious your condition is and what it means for the future.
It’s also normal to experience a range of emotions such as fear, uncertainty, anxiety and low mood. If you are worried about your thoughts or how you are feeling, talk to your doctor and seek support from your loved ones.
To help manage your condition:
- identify your abnormal heart rhythm triggers
- take your medicines as prescribed
- make healthy lifestyle changes including managing stress, quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, following a heart-healthy eating pattern and staying active
Medication For Arrhythmias In Children
Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers both regulate heartbeats by slowing electrical impulses in the heart, although they work in different ways. Beta blockers prevent adrenalinea hormone that is released in response to stressfrom increasing heart rate. In contrast, calcium channel blockers prevent calcium from entering cells in the heart, which slows the force of contractions and regulates heart rhythm.
Our doctors may prescribe one or more medications to regulate heart rhythm, depending on the type and severity of your childs arrhythmia. These medications are taken daily by mouth, as a liquid or tablet. Its important to follow your doctors recommendations about how often these medications should be taken.
Children with an arrhythmia caused by an infection or one that appears after heart surgery may only need medication until the heart heals itself. In other instances, doctors may prescribe antiarrhythmic medications until the child has a procedure to treat the underlying condition, such as a congenital heart problem. For some children, lifelong use of antiarrhythmic medications may be needed.
How To Locate Your Pulse
The pulse is best felt over the carotid artery by placing two fingers below the angle of the jaw on either side of the trachea , but never both sides at once. Alternatively, the pulse can be felt at the radial artery. Look at your palm and place two fingers on the side of your wrist closest to your thumb to feel your radial artery.
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Why Does Atrial Fibrillation Happen And How Common Is It
Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disturbance and affects up to 800,000 people in the UK.
The cause of atrial fibrillation is not fully understood, but it tends to occur in certain groups of people and may be triggered by certain situations, such as drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or smoking.
The condition can affect adults of any age or gender but:
- is more common the older you get
- affects about 10% of people over 75
- more common in men than women
Atrial fibrillation is more likely to occur in people with other conditions, like:
- high blood pressure
How Do I Prepare For A Chemical Cardioversion
Talk with your healthcare provider about what you should do to get ready for your chemical cardioversion. Follow your healthcare providers instructions about what medicines to take before you start the cardioversion. Dont stop taking any medicine unless your healthcare provider tells you to do so. You might need blood tests before the procedure to make sure it is safe to have the procedure.
Depending on the type of irregular heart rhythm you have, you could be at a higher risk of blood clots. Your healthcare provider may want you to take blood thinner medicine for several weeks before and after your cardioversion. This is to help prevent blood clots. Your healthcare provider may want a transesophageal echocardiography test before the procedure. This test is a special kind of ultrasound. A thin, flexible tube is put down your throat and into your esophagus. Here, the tube is close to your heart. It lets your healthcare provider see if you have any blood clots.
Your cardioversion may be pushed back a few weeks if your healthcare provider finds a clot. Youll take blood thinner medicine for a while until your healthcare provider thinks your risk of clots is low. Its important to take this medicine exactly as your healthcare provider tells you. You are also likely to need blood thinner medicine if your abnormal rhythm has lasted more than 48 hours. This is also true if you have had a blood clot in the past.
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How The Heart Works
The heart has two upper chambers and two lower chambers .
The atria and ventricles have walls of muscle. A heartbeat happens when this muscle suddenly contracts so that the chambers become smaller and the blood inside is squeezed out.
The control of the heartbeat starts with a small clump of cells in the right atrium, called the sinoatrial node . This sends out electrical impulses through the atrial muscle to another clump of cells called the atrioventricular node, found between the atria and ventricles. The impulse then continues through the AV node down fibres that conduct the impulse into the muscle of the ventricles.
The AV node determines the rate of contraction of the ventricles. The pulse felt at the wrist is due to the contraction of the ventricles.
Drugs That Decrease Heart Rate
A slow heart rate, called bradycardia, may result from various medications. Some drugs were developed specifically to slow the heart rate. But bradycardia may be an unwanted side effect of a wide range of other medications that were not developed to have any impact on the heart. When taking more than one medication that can slow the heart rate, the additive effect has the potential to be profound.
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What Happens During A Chemical Cardioversion
The procedure may be done in a hospital. Or it may be done in a healthcare providers office or in your home. Your healthcare provider will give you an antiarrhythmic medicine. This is given by mouth or through an IV. If you are treated at home, you will need careful follow-up with a cardiologist. If you have chemical cardioversion at a hospital, someone will check your heart rate and rhythm.
The type of medicine used will vary based on your type of abnormal rhythm and your other medical problems. The following are some examples of medicines that your healthcare provider might use:
- Flecainide, dofetilide, propafenone, amiodarone or ibutilide, for AF
- Adenosine or verapamil, for supraventricular tachycardia
What Happens In Atrial Fibrillation
When the heart beats normally, its muscular walls contract to force blood out and around the body. They then relax, so the heart can fill with blood again. This process is repeated every time the heart beats.
Atrial fibrillation occurs when abnormal electrical impulses suddenly start firing in the atria .
These impulses override the heart’s natural pacemaker, which can no longer control the rhythm of the heart. The atria contract randomly and sometimes so fast that the heart muscle cannot relax properly between contractions. This reduces the heart’s efficiency and performance and causes a highly irregular pulse rate.
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Blood Thinners To Prevent Clots And Stroke
AFib can interfere with the normal, healthy flow of blood throughout your heart. The irregular beat of the atria allows blood to pool rather than move into the ventricles and out to the lungs or the rest of the body.
Blood that pools can easily become a blood clot. Once that clot leaves the heart it can become lodged in an artery supplying blood to the brain. If it blocks circulation, that clot can cause a strokethe disruption of blood flow to brain tissue.
An estimated 1 in 7 strokes are caused by AFib, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are two main types of blood thinners medications that either slow down or interfere with the blood clotting process. They include:
The most common side effects from blood thinners are episodes of excessive bleeding. This may include:
- prolonged bleeding from a cut or scrape
- blood in urine or stool
- nosebleeds without an obvious cause
Blood thinners may also cause excessive bruising just under the skin and internal bleeding complications. If you suffer an injury, such as a fall, be aware that weakness or numbness on one side of the body or a sudden headache or change in vision or hearing may indicate internal bleeding.
Treat these symptoms as an emergency and get to a hospital. People who take blood thinners are advised to wear a medical alert bracelet detailing their heart condition and the medications they take.
Normal Heart Rate Ranges
|> 100 bpm||Tachycardia|
In certain circumstances, a heart rate higher or lower than what’s considered normal is nothing to worry about. It all depends on what you’re doing.
For example, some people may have a heart rate in the 50s while sleeping, which is completely normal. On the other hand, if you are exercising, you can expect your heart rate to go above 100 bpm.
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Symptoms Of Abnormal Heart Rhythms
Occasional palpitations during periods of emotional or physical stress are normal and are nothing to worry about. However, an irregular heartbeat can be a sign of an abnormal heart rhythm, or another heart condition. Talk to your doctor if you feel your heart beating too fast, too slowly or irregularly.
Symptoms of an abnormal heart rhythm can include:
- light-headedness or dizziness
Talk to your doctor if you think your medicine is triggering an abnormal rhythm. Never stop taking prescription medicine without talking to your doctor or pharmacist first.
In some people, certain types of exercise may trigger an abnormal heart rhythm. If you think this is happening to you, talk to your doctor. Physical activity is very important for your heart health and overall wellbeing and should not be avoided without talking to your doctor first.
Description Of Increased Heart Rate
A fast heartbeat, or a high heart rate , is when the heart beats faster than usual.
- If a person trains or exercises any physical load, the heart will be reduced more often. This allows the body to pump blood throughout the body so effectively that all cells and tissues are provided with oxygen.
- If a person experiences fear, anxiety, or emotional stress, the heart rate will also increase.
Such variants of tachycardia are considered physiological or functional and in most cases pass independently, that is, special treatment is not performed.
People who can feel their heartbeat or fluttering heart, often have an increased heart rate. If it is often determined or symptoms of tachycardia do not come for a long time, then you need to inform your doctor about it.
Other causes of rapid heart rate:
- Infectious lung diseases, such as pneumonia.
- Infectious diseases of the blood that can cause fever.
- Heart disorders, including irregular heartbeats .
Symptoms of rapid heartbeat
- There may be no signs of rapid heart rate, or a rapid pulse is felt .
- Anxiety or an attack of fear.
- The feeling that the heart is not right in the chest.
- Pain or mild discomfort in the heart area.
- The heart “trembles”, and it seems that it is abbreviated incorrectly.
- With concomitant anemia, there may be a feeling of fatigue, weakness.
- It may be difficult to perform any routine activities.
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Heart Rate Controlling Medications
- Beta blockers. These are drugs used to slow the heart rate. Most people can function and feel better if their heart rate is controlled. Read more about beta blockers.
- Some examples may include:
- Calcium channel blockers. These medications have multiple effects on the heart. They are used to slow the heart rate in patients with AFib and to reduce the strength of the muscle cells contraction.
- Some examples are:
Medicines To Control Atrial Fibrillation
Medicines called anti-arrhythmics can control atrial fibrillation by:
- restoring a normal heart rhythm
- controlling the rate at which the heart beats
The choice of anti-arrhythmic medicine depends on:
- the type of atrial fibrillation
- any other medical conditions you have
- side effects of the medicine chosen
- how well the atrial fibrillation responds.
Some people with atrial fibrillation may need more than one anti-arrhythmic medicine to control it.
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When To Contact A Doctor
People must seek emergency medical care if their heart rate is too fast, too slow, or beating irregularly, alongside chest pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
People must also have check-ups while undergoing treatment for arrhythmias to ensure proper intake of medications and evaluation of any implanted devices.
Family and friends of people with arrhythmias can also learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation in case of emergencies.
Easy Ways For Tachycardia Treatment At Home
In some cases, tachycardia sufferers experience symptoms of chest pain, lightheadedness, and difficulty breathing. The comprehensive list below outlines some of the most common home remedies for fast heart rate.
Vagal Manoeuvres: These are techniques that can stimulate the vagus nerve running from your brainstem, through your neck, and into both sides of your chest and abdomen. The nerve carries messages from your brain to major organs. You can decrease the rate of electrical impulses by stimulating the nerve. You do this by gagging, holding your breath and bearing down, immersing yourself in ice-cold water, which is referred to as , or by coughing. Taking a breath and bearing down is one of the tachycardia natural home remedies recommended by The American Heart Association.
Control Stress: Tachycardia can be triggered by episodes of stress and anxiety. Practicing stress-relieving techniques is considered a tachycardia home remedy. Some people may like reducing stress through breathing exercises. For example, breathing in for four seconds through the nose, holding the breath for a moment, and then releasing the breath through the mouth for another four seconds.
Repeating this cycle several times allows you to begin to feel calmer. Meditation, which focuses on relieving stress by letting go of your thoughts, is another good approach, as is yoga. Yoga is known for helping to strengthen the body, but it also acts as a way of clearing the mind.
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What Is A Rapid Heartbeat
A rapid heartbeat, or tachycardia, is a condition in which the heart is beating fast, generally more than 100 beats per minute for an adult. A rapid heartbeat can be normal, or it can result from a disease, disorder or other harmful condition.
The heart pumps blood to the lungs and the rest of the body by contracting its four chambers. The two upper chambers are the atria and the two lower chambers are the ventricles. The sinus node, a small group of cells in your right atrium, transmits an electrical impulse through the heart, causing the atria to contract. The impulse travels through the ventricles, enabling them to contract and pump blood throughout the body. The number of times the heart beats per minute is called the heart rate. The rate of these contractions is determined by nerve impulses and hormones in the blood.
The rate at which your heart beats varies continuously, rising and falling in response to many conditions and situations. For example, your heart rate will rise during strenuous activity in order to ensure that all the cells of the body receive sufficient amounts of oxygen-rich blood. The heartbeat may also become faster in response to stressful situations or when you are in pain. Your heartbeat is normally lower during periods of relaxation or sleep. The average adult resting heart rate falls within the range of 60 to 80 beats per minute.
Herbal Remedies For Tachycardia
So, if you are wondering how to stop tachycardia naturally, there is no magic solution. What we can tell you is that there are some tachycardia herbal remedies that have been effective for some people.
Many herbs have been traditionally used to treat heart palpitations, but some people have reported that they help ease stress levels. And as we have established, stress can trigger tachycardia.
Here are some potential herbs for tachycardia:
- Motherwort : Long considered a remedy for anxiety, it is believed that the alkaloids that are in this herb can calm the nervous system, making it a natural cure for tachycardia, especially cases where the rapid heart rate is triggered by stress. A note of caution though, this herb should not be used if you are pregnant.
- Passion Flower : This herb promotes relaxation and also has anti-anxiety properties. The flavonoids in Passion Flower may account for these properties.
- Valerian : The valerian root is known for its sedative effects but it can also help with fast heartbeat. Some studies suggest that valerian makes for a good tachycardia herbal treatment because it may bind to GABA-A receptors, which regulate sedation. Being more relaxed means less stress.
- Cordyceps: This herb is used a lot in traditional Chinese medicine and may slow heart rate.
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Fast Heart Rate What Tests Are Needed
History The initial most important thing is a good history. Are there associated symptoms of palpitations, light-headedness, fatigue, and dizziness or passing out? Is there associated chest pain or shortness of breath? Is the fast heart rate intermittent or constant and do the symptoms only appear when the heart rate is elevated? What happens to the blood pressure when the heart rate is elevated? Is there a history of heart disease or prior testing? These questions are critical in determining the seriousness of the situation and determining the work up required. If there are alarm symptoms such as above then the heart rate needs work up and should not be ignored.
Physical Exam Is the heart rate regular or irregular when it is fast. Are there physical exam signs of heart failure such as fluid retention? Also a thorough physical exam can point toward other systemic problems such a thyroid issues or other.
EKG A baseline EKG is key. Is the heart rhythm normal or abnormal? Is there any evidence of abnormality of the heart rate or conduction system of the heart? It is particularly useful to perform an EKG during the period of fast heart rate as it may help clinch the diagnosis if there is a cardiac cause.
Blood work Basic blood tests will be performed to rule out anemia or electrolyte abnormalities, thyroid function testing may be performed. Other testing may be performed as indicated.