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Arrhythmia : Meaning, Types, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment 

With the rapidly changing lifestyle of the modern youth, occurrence of heart diseases post the age of 45 has become a common trend. One such disease is Arrhythmia which can be described as the irregular beating of the heart that can either be too fast or too slow with no pattern as such. Arrhythmia generally occurs due to a disruption in the electrical signals that maintain proper functionality of the heart. This feeling can be described as fluttering or racing heart. Most cases of arrhythmia tend to be harmless. This doesn’t mean they cannot be fatal. Many cases where the heartbeat is seriously weak requires proper medical attention for prevention of fatality.

Arrhythmia - Meaning, Types, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment 

Generally, arrhythmia can be broken into these patterns:

  • Bradycardia: Slow Heartbeat
  • Tachycardia: Fast Heartbeat
  • Fibrillation or flutter: Irregular Heartbeat
  • Premature Contraction: Early Heartbeat


Any kind of interruption that disrupts proper flow of electrical impulses inside the heart thereby disturbing the heart contraction pattern leads to occurrence of arrhythmia. Any healthy person has a heart rate of 60 to 100 beats every minute. However, arrhythmia can cause a fluctuation in this number which could be a resultant of:

  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol Abuse
  • Drug Abuse
  • Consumption of coffee in excessive amount
  • Congestive failure of heart
  • Hypertension
  • Mental Stress
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Scarring inside the heart
  • Certain Dietary supplements
  • Smoking
  • Certain Herbal Treatments
  • Certain medications
  • Structural changes that have occurred in the heart


Arrhythmia is basically the irregular pattern of heartbeat that can be classified into several types which include the following types:

  • Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation can be described as an irregular beating inside the atrial chambers  which can be too fast. It mostly affects the elderly persons. Here the heart doesn’t produce strong, single contraction, rather it produces quivers or chamber fibrillates. Certain cases of atrium fibrillating at even 350 beats every minute has been recorded till a high of 600 in extreme circumstances.

  • Atrial Flutter

This type of arrhythmia consists of different random quivers occurring inside the atrium. It usually occurs in the area that doesn’t conduct electrical connections in a proper way. Patients suffering from atrial flutter tend to experience both fibrillation and flutter at the same instance or one at a time. Patients might experience about 250 to 350 beats every minute.

  • SVT or Supraventricular Tachycardia

This type of arrhythmia is generally paired with an abnormal heartbeat that is too rapid. An accelerated burst of heartbeat is experienced by the patient that might last from a second to some couple of hours. Patients suffering from SVT can experience a heartbeat rate of 160 to 200 every minute.

  • Ventricular Tachycardia

Ventricular Tachycardia is marked by an abnormal impulse of electricity that starts inside the ventricles while causing heartbeat that is too fast for normal. This can be a result of scarring from previous occurrence of heart attack. In this case the ventricles might contract about 200 times per minute.

  • Ventricular Fibrillation

An uncoordinated and rapidly fluttering contractions inside the ventricles leads to ventricular fibrillation. In this case the ventricles fail to pump the blood in a proper manner while continuing to quiver leading to life threatening condition. This is generally triggered after occurrence of heart attack.

  • Long QT Syndrome

An uncoordinated and rapid heartbeat pattern that might result in fainting is marked as Long QT syndrome. This can often be a condition that is fatal. Long QT syndrome generally occurs when one suffers from genetic susceptibility or due to consumption of certain medications.


Some patients do not show any kind of symptoms and can only be diagnosed via routine examination or EKG. However, symptoms being shown by an individual doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something serious. Let’s take a look at the different symptoms shown by different types of arrhythmia.

Tachycardia Symptoms

  • Dyspnea or breathlessness
  • Syncope or fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Fluttering feeling in chest
  • Sudden onset of weakness
  • Lightheadedness

Bradycardia Symptoms

  • Chest Pain or Angina
  • Trouble Concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Difficulties during exercising
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Syncope
  • Sweating or Diaphoresis

Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms

This condition is defined by an irregular heartbeat pattern in upper chamber that doesn’t sync with the lower ones. The symptoms are:

  • Angina
  • Dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Palpitations
  • Weakness
  • Syncope


Arrhythmia treatment isn’t necessary unless the condition is jeopardizing the patient’s health.

  • Bradycardia treatment involves the use of pacemaker to be placed inside the skin of patient’s chest or close to the abdomen in order to control the heart rhythms that are abnormal. Pacemakers control the heartbeat with electrical impulses to allow normalization of the heartbeat.

Tachycardia treatment are of different types which include:

  • Vagal Maneuvers
  • Medications
  • Cardioversion
  • ICD or Implantable Cardiverter-defibrillator
  • Ablation Therapy
  • Maze Procedure
  • Coronary Bypass Surgery
  • Ventricular Aneurysm Surgery

Arrhythmia can also lead to certain complications which includes stroke and heart failure. Proper and timely treatment usually improves the condition of the patient suffering from arrhythmia.

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About Anirudh Singh

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