7 Symptoms of Arrhythmia

An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart beat. When everything is working well, the heart should maintain a steady, even beat. Arrhythmia occurs when the heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or erratically. The changes in heart rhythm can be caused by several different factors. Some medications speed up the heart rate. Smoking, stress, an imbalance in the electrolytes in your system, and heart disease can also change the heart rate.

Some forms of arrhythmia, like premature atrial contractions that occur in the upper chambers of the heart, are not dangerous at all. Others, like a sudden rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) or an extremely intermittent or slow heartbeat (bradycardia), can cause a disruption in the heart’s ability to deliver blood to the body’s organs. If the disruption goes on for too long or severely impedes the blood flow to the extremities it can be very dangerous and lead to cardiac arrest.

1. Chest Pain

One of the most alarming signs that an arrhythmia has occurred is chest pain. The presence of pain indicates that the arrhythmia has lasted long enough to impact the heart’s ability to move blood through the cardiovascular system. Pain can occur due to a fast heart rate, slow heart rate, or irregular heart rate. The pain might be sharp and localized near the center of your chest, or it could be more of an ache that radiates in your upper chest and sometimes into your back.

Not all pain in the chest is caused by a heart problem, though. Unusual physical activity, acid reflux, or even irritable bowel syndrome can cause discomfort in the upper torso that simulates heart pain. These types of pain usually dissipate after a short period of time, however. Any time you experience chest pain that does not go away when you change position or take an antacid you should visit your doctor, if only to ease your mind that nothing serious is wrong. The pain may not be related to arrhythmia, but if it is you will have the greatest chance of preventing a more serious medical problem if the trouble is recognized and treated as early as possible.