Understanding Heart Arrhythmia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Understanding Heart Arrhythmia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Put briefly, a heart arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat that happens when there are cardiac irregularities, i.e. the electrical signals that are responsible for telling the heart to bead stop working properly. When this happens, the heart might beat too slow or too fast, or follow an inconsistent heartbeat pattern.

In addition, although some heart arrhythmias are pretty much harmless, others are considered to be life-threatening. Therefore, we’ve come up with this article to help you understand heart arrhythmia, as well as raise arrhythmia awareness.

Heart Arrhythmia Symptoms

Did you know that a heart arrhythmia doesn’t always cause symptoms? In this case, an irregular heartbeat might be noticed during a regular health checkup or one done for another reason. On the other hand, when arrhythmia does cause symptoms, you may experience:

  • A fast heartbeat
  • A slow heartbeat
  • A fluttering or pounding feeling in your chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness

So, if you want to preserve your cardiovascular health, ensure you see your healthcare provider as soon as you notice any of the above-listed symptoms. If there’s something to worry about and your doctor confirms you have an irregular heartbeat, you will then be referred to see a cardiologist.

Heart Arrhythmia Causes

In general, certain health conditions and lifestyle choices can affect the way the electrical signals travel through the heart and cause an irregular heartbeat. These may include:

  • A heart attack
  • Scarring from a heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease (blocked heart arteries)
  • Heart structure changes, like from cardiomyopathy
  • High blood pressure
  • COVID-19 infection
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Thyroid gland disorders
  • Genetics
  • Certain medicines, like those for treating allergies and colds
  • Alcohol or caffeine overconsumption
  • Drug misuse or use of illegal drugs
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Smoking

Heart Arrhythmia Treatment

Heart arrhythmia treatment options may vary depending on whether you have a fast or slow heartbeat. What’s more, some arrhythmias won’t even require any medical treatment, but regular checkups only. Still, if your arrhythmia causes extreme symptoms or increases the risk of a more serious cardiovascular health issue, treatment is needed. Heart arrhythmia treatment options include medication, therapies, procedures, or surgery.


Depending on the type of arrhythmia you suffer from and the potential complications, your doctor may prescribe different medications. For instance, if you have tachycardia (a heart rate over 100 beats a minute) you should take medicine that will help you control the heart rate and rhythm. Similarly, if you suffer from atrial fibrillation (AFib), an irregular and often fast heart rhythm, you may have to take blood thinners to prevent blood clots.


Furthermore, some of the heart arrhythmia treatment options include some special actions, such as vagal maneuvers or cardioversion. Vagal maneuvers help you slow down a fast heart rate and include coughing, bearing down, and applying an ice pack on the face. Next, cardioversion includes the application of patches on the chest through which an electrical shock to the heart is given to help it reset its rhythm.

Surgery or Other Procedures


Last but not least, if medicine and therapy aren’t enough to help you with your cardiovascular health, managing arrhythmia might require certain procedures or surgery. These may include catheter ablation, pacemaker, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, maze procedure, or coronary bypass graft surgery.

Final Thoughts

As already noted, a heart arrhythmia may be trivial, but it may also be life-threatening. Hence, make sure you do regular health checkups to ensure optimal cardiovascular health.