Cardiac Arrhythmia Consultation

What is cardiac arrhythmia?

Cardiac arrhythmias or heart arrhythmias are the problems with the heart rhythm. It is a condition of the heart in which the heart beats doesn’t work properly. The condition may cause the heart to beat very slowly or very fast. Heart arrhythmias may frighten the patient with racing heart, which can sometimes be harmless. However, certain cases can be harmful and even life-threatening.

What are the symptoms of cardiac arrhythmia?

It is not necessary that arrhythmias cause signs or symptoms. Arrhythmias are usually found during a routine examination. If there are noticeable symptoms, it may indicate that you have a serious issue. Symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain

  • A racing heartbeat

  • A fluttering in the chest

  • A slow heartbeat

  • Fainting

  • Dizziness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Lightheadedness

If you experience the above symptoms, it is an indication that you must see your doctor soon for a heart checkup.

What causes cardiac arrhythmia?

There are many factors which can be suspected as the cause of arrhythmia. Some of them are:

  • High blood pressure

  • Stress

  • Diabetes

  • A prior heart attack that may cause scarring of the heart tissue

  • Changes to the heart’s structure

  • Hyperthyroidism

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Stress

  • Electrical shock

  • Coronary artery diseases

  • Certain medications

  • A heart attack

  • Excessive use of alcohol

  • Drug abuse

Arrhythmias are of two types- tachycardia and bradycardia. Tachycardia refers to the fast heartbeat and bradycardia refers to the slow heartbeat.

What are the treatments and drugs for cardiac arrhythmia?

Treatment will be different for slow heartbeat (bradycardia) and fast heartbeat (tachycardia). Slow heartbeat is treated with pacemaker treatment. Pacemaker is a small device that can be implanted near to the collarbone of the patient. Various treatments are there for tachycardia:

  • Medications

  • Cardioversion

  • Catheter ablation

  • Vagal maneuvers

Implant devices like pacemaker and implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) etc. are also used. Surgeries such as Maze procedure and Coronary bypass surgery are also suggested in severe cases.

How are arrhythmias diagnosed?

To diagnose cardiac arrhythmia, the doctor will first analyse the medical history of the patient. He/she will thoroughly examine the symptoms and physical characteristics. The doctor may also suggest other tests to rule out infections and causes of arrhythmia in the patient. ECG or Electrocardiogram is the test used to diagnose the condition. ECG will record the heart’s signals and the doctor will be able to see whether it is beating properly or not. The doctor will refer your child to a pediatric cardiologist, one who is specialized in children’s heart disorders.

If the doctor suspects for an arrhythmia in the child, he/she will order another device to record the child’s heartbeat. It can be a portable monitor or an implantable one. Depending on the condition of the child, the doctor may suggest other tests if required:

  • Electrophysiology Test: The test helps the doctor to find the site of arrhythmia’s origin within the heart tissue of the child. A small, thin tube is used for this test, which is inserted into the blood vessel in the arm or leg.

  • Tilt table test: This test is considered as the best option for children with frequent fainting episodes. The test displays how the blood pressure level and heart rate respond to a change in the body’s posture.