An arrhythmia is any change in rate or rhythm of your heartbeat (irregular heartbeat). Your heart may beat too quickly (tachycardia), too slowly (bradycardia) or in an irregular pattern.
There are many types of arrhythmias, ranging from a few skipped beats that are mostly just a nuisance to a racing heart that can lead to long-term damage. The most common type of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation, a fast and irregular heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure.
Symptoms of arrhythmia
Arrhythmia symptoms may include the following:
- Chest discomfort
- Fast or slow heart rate
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
Some people with arrhythmia don't experience any symptoms. In fact, it's not uncommon for the condition to be discovered during a routine physical.
Causes of arrhythmia
Arrhythmias can be caused by a number of factors, including the following:
- Congenital heart problems
- Coronary artery disease
- Electrolyte imbalances (such as sodium or potassium)
- High blood pressure