When Is Arrhythmia Considered “Serious”?

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Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeat rhythms that can occur when the heart’s natural electrical system doesn’t function properly, disrupting the normal heart rhythm. Arrhythmias can be identified by symptoms such as a racing or fluttering heartbeat, chest pain, an abnormally slow heartbeat, dizziness or fainting (syncope). While arrhythmias are fairly common and often harmless, they are occasionally symptoms of a more urgent condition. For this reason, arrhythmias can be dangerous to ignore, especially if they are ongoing.

Atrial Arrhythmias

Arrhythmias are categorized by the location in the heart where the trouble is occurring. Arrhythmias sometimes occur in the atria, the two upper chambers of the heart that contain the sinus node, the heart’s natural pacemaker. Generally, atrial arrhythmias are considered less of a health risk, although if left untreated, they can lead to blood clots in the heart.

Ventricular Arrhythmias

Arrhythmias can also occur in the ventricles, the larger pump at the bottom of the heart. Ventricular arrhythmias are considered more serious than atrial arrhythmias because they can lead to a dramatic decrease in blood supply to the organs and brain, which can have serious consequences.

Get a Professional Opinion

Although arrhythmias are usually not life-threatening, it’s best to get a professional opinion if you suspect that you may have an arrhythmia. A qualified specialist can determine the location of the arrhythmia, as well as offer solutions. Oftentimes, a change in lifestyle can help treat and prevent arrhythmias. For others, medications, ablation or the use of an implanted pacemaker can control arrhythmias or eliminate them altogether.