What Is The Cause Of Heart Palpitations Or Arrhythmias?

Do you ever wonder what the cause of heart palpitations is?Well, there are many different reasons for arrhythmias.

Do you ever feel like your heart skips a beat? It feels awful and you wonder if something is wrong with your heart. There are actually many different reasons for this. When it feels like your heart skips a beat or starts to beat differently, this is called a palpitation or arrhythmia. Some arrhythmias are a temporary adjustment of the heartbeat. Other causes are more serious.

The heart is a fascinating organ. It sustains our life, yet we often take it for granted because it beats automatically. The heart is a muscle which contracts and expands (beats) to pump blood through your blood vessels to all parts of the body. Blood flows throughout the body in a cycle. When blood leaves the right side of the heart, it travels to the lungs. Here it picks up oxygen, then goes to the left side of the heart and then out to the body. The atriua are the top of the heart chambers and ventricles are the bottom chambers in the heart. The chambers are connected but there are valves between each which open and close with the flow of the blood. The heart uses electrical impulses. Damage to the heart can interfere with the electrical controls of the heart. Symptoms of arrhythmias include but are not limited to:

-rapid or irregular heart beats

-skipping beats

-fainting

-dizziness

-a feeling like the heart is jumping out of the chest

-shortness of breath

Tachycardia is a form of arrhythmia because there is an abnormality in the heart's rhythm. Tachycardia refers to the heart beating much faster than it is supposed to. The normal heart rate is 60 to 80 beats per minute while at rest. A person with tachycardia could have a heart rate, at rest, of 90 or 130! Although a healthy heart can have times of an abnormal beat, a diseased heart is more likely to experience these problems and it is potentially life threatening, at times. Also specific medical problems can cause tachycardia, or rapid heart rate, such as, Hyperthyroidism.



Atrial tachycardia is another example of a heart arrhythmia and it is more uncomfortable than dangerous, because it is the ventricles not the atria that are the pumping chambers that pump the blood throughout the body. If ventricular tachycardia is not treated, it can turn into ventricular fibrillation which is often fatal. People with ventricular fibrillation are usually people who have suffered from one or more heart attacks and whose hearts are damaged. Usually medication can treat these arrhythmias. In addition to the above symptoms, ventricular fibrillation can include chest pain. Atrial fibrillation often occurs with mitral valve prolapse (the mitral valves are the little covers or flaps that open and close between the atrium and the ventricles. This type of fibrillation is only dangerous because it can put stress on the ventricles and if they go into fibrillation (remember the ventricles are the blood pumpers), this can cause heart failure. If medical treatment fails in treating atrial fibrillation, a procedure called defibrillation is done, which entails shocking the heart with two electrically charged paddles to restore normal rhythm.

Heart block is another condition that effects the rhythm of the heart. This is caused by heart damage or blockage of blood vessels. Symptoms can include any of those mentioned. A pacemaker is used to treat this condition, along with medication. A pacemaker is a tiny device surgically implanted under the skin that regulates the heart's rhythm by controlling the electrical impulses.

Premature heartbeats are fairly common. These are extra beats that a person may feel from time to time but often they are not noticed until they are picked up on a test called an EKG, or electrocardiogram. Premature beats can occur in the atria or the ventricles. Again, this is more serious when it occurs in the ventricles. Either type can occur in people with perfectly healthy hearts. They can also occur in people with high blood pressure, and can be a sign of heart disease. Premature atrial beats may also show up in people who use stimulants such as nicotine and caffiene. Use of some illegal drugs can also have serious effects on the heart which can be potentially fatal.

A physical by your doctor can uncover many suspected rhythm problems. An EKG, as well as blood tests and other tests can identify the problem of reoccurring heart arrhythmias so your doctor can treat you properly.

Of course, like everything in health and in life, prevention is almost everything. As far as the serious heart palpitations, or arrhythmias, prevention of heart disease, thus heart damage, is the answer, the key, if you will. Avoiding stimulants such as nicotine, illegal drugs and caffeine, may alleviate your palpitations. Further investigation by your doctor is suggested if palpitations are recurrent and/or if you have symptoms mentioned above.

© High Speed Ventures 2011