Arrhythmia is another word for an abnormal heart beat. The associated changes in heart rate can occur in the atria and ventricles of your heart and may cause severe symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, because arrhythmias can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, it’s important to learn how to reduce your chances of having one. Here’s a look at risk factors for arrhythmia and steps you can take to protect your heart health.
Previous Heart Attack
During a heart attack, your heart muscle becomes damaged. Scars and abnormal tissue deposits often occur, and these can lead to arrhythmias. Bradycardia, an arrhythmia that is caused by interference with AV conduction, and tachycardia, which is triggered by abnormally firing cells, are both associated with heart tissue scarring and deposits. After a heart attack, your doctor will likely monitor your heart health with EKGs, but arrhythmias that only occur sometimes may not be caught on these tests. For that reason, it’s important to tell your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or the sensation that your heart is fluttering in your chest.
Several types of congenital heart conditions can increase the risk of arrhythmias. For instance, people born with a conduction system that is not fully developed are at risk for chronic heart blockages and bradycardia. Re-entrant supraventricular tachycardia is common in people with extra electrical pathways in the heart.
Drugs and Medications
Both illegal and prescription medications can cause heart arrhythmias, as can cigarettes and alcohol. In some cases, medications used to treat arrhythmias can actually trigger different types of arrhythmias, so be sure to report all medication side effects to your doctor.
If you experience a heart health emergency, visit the emergency room at Brandon Regional Hospital. For help managing your arrhythmia, ask your doctor to refer you to our Hillsborough County AFib & Heart Rhythm Center. At our hospital, you’ll also find a Primary Stroke Center, pediatric care, an orthopedic department, and a NICU. Learn more by calling (888) 327-2636.