Now accepting Telemedicine appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

What Are Arrhythmias and Why are they Dangerous?

What Are Arrhythmias and Why are they Dangerous?

To say that your heart is hard-working would be a gross understatement — each day it beats 100,000 times and pumps 2,000 gallons of nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. Any disruption in this system has the potential to lead to problems, and an arrhythmia certainly qualifies as a disruption.

At Cardiovascular Institute of America, Dr. Muthu Velusamy, MD is a board-certified cardiologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating arrhythmias, helping our patients stay one step ahead of their heart health.

Here’s a look at what an arrhythmia is and when it may be dangerous.

Understanding arrhythmia

When we refer to an arrhythmia, we’re referring to an electrical problem in your heart that causes an irregular heartbeat. Your heart is composed of four chambers — two upper chambers called atria, which pump blood into two lower chambers called ventricles, which are responsible for sending your blood into your lungs or into your body.

The beat of your heart is controlled by your sinus node, which is located in the right atrium of your heart. This node creates an electrical impulse that initiates your heartbeat by causing the muscles in your atria to contract. This impulse is slowed before it reaches your ventricles, allowing these chambers to fill with blood first. The pulse then picks up again to contract your ventricles, sending blood into your lungs or into circulation throughout your body.

If you have an arrythmia, the problem can lead to either a heartbeat that’s too fast (tachycardia) or too slow (bradycardia). And these problems can originate in different areas of your heart, further complicating the problem.

To give you an idea of how many different types of arrhythmias there are, here’s a list of the most common:

 This list is by no means comprehensive, but it demonstrates the many different forms that an arrhythmia can take.

When an arrhythmia is cause for concern

While it’s perfectly normal for your heart rate to increase or decrease (think about exercising or sleeping, respectively), when these issues are present outside of these circumstances, there’s always cause for concern.

A normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute, so when an arrhythmia forces these numbers too low or too high, you run two primary risks:

This is a terribly simple explanation for a very complex problem, and whether your arrhythmia is dangerous or not depends upon your unique circumstances. For example, some people are unaware that they even have an arrhythmia and lead perfectly normal lives with an irregular heartbeat. In other cases, however, the problem may stem from (or lead to) serious cardiovascular issues that require medical attention and oversight.

The bottom line is that it’s impossible for us to say whether your arrhythmia is dangerous, but we certainly prefer to err on the side of caution when it comes to matters of the heart. 

The best way to know for sure is to have us perform an extensive evaluation to determine your risks for developing complications. From there, we can recommend an appropriate treatment plan for your arrhythmia, which can range from simple lifestyle changes to implanting a pacemaker.

To better understand your arrhythmia, please contact one of our offices in Citrus Park, Lutz, and Tampa, Florida, to set up an appointment.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Why Would I Need a Pacemaker?

Pacemakers are specialized medical devices that treat heart conditions. Could you be a candidate for one? Find out the reasons why you might need a pacemaker here.

Diagnosing Peripheral Artery Disease

Diagnosing peripheral artery disease (PAD) quickly allows you to reduce or avoid possible complications. A quality life is possible with this condition, and getting diagnosis and treatment from a cardiovascular or a vascular specialist is the first step.

What is Cardiac Catheterization and PCI?

When lifestyle modifications aren’t enough to alleviate symptoms of heart disease, or if the diagnosis tests like Stress test or CT Angiogram come back abnormal, it may be time to consider cardiac catheterization and PCI. Keep reading to learn more.

5 Potential Signs of a Heart Attack

Chest pain is a common heart attack symptom, but it’s not the only one. Continue reading to learn more about five potential signs of a heart attack you should be aware of and what to do if you experience any of them.

The Link Between Your Diet and Heart Health

Heart disease isn’t inevitable. Even if you have a family history of heart disease, you can still take steps to protect your heart and ensure that you live a long, healthy life, starting with the foods you eat.