An arrhythmia can often have no symptoms when it is very brief. It may feel like a skipped heartbeat that a person hardly notices, the AHA said. For others, however, it can feel like a fluttering in the chest or neck. Arrhythmias that are severe or last for a long period of time can actually affect the way the heart functions. The heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body, causing symptoms such as fatigue, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness. In extreme cases, it can cause death, the AHA said.
Fortunately, patients today have hope through the use of advanced treatments such as medication and minimally invasive surgical procedures. Electrophysiologists like Dr. Wase first find the source of an arrhythmia before choosing the right treatment. An electrocardiogram (or EKG) is often used to diagnose arrhythmias. An EKG creates a graphic record of the heart’s electrical impulses. Other tests may include exercise stress tests and electrophysiological studies, which help map the heart’s electrical system. Arrhythmias that happen infrequently may require a monitor that can be worn up to four weeks, Dr. Wase said.
It’s important for individuals to understand the risk factors for arrhythmias since the condition can increase their chances for a heart attack or stroke. Risk factors include:
Age –Normal aging is associated with a variety of changes to a person's cardiovascular system and studies have shown that the risk for arrhythmias increase as one gets older, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Genetics – Men are at slightly higher risk for developing an arrhythmia than women. However, women diagnosed with it carry a longer-term risk of premature death, the AHA said. A person is at a higher risk for the condition if heart disease is part of their family history.
Certain diseases – Those with thyroid disease, diabetes and hypertension are more prone to develop an arrhythmia.
Lifestyle choices – Tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption and stimulant drug use (including caffeine) raises a person's risk.
Dr. Wase encourages individuals to work with their physician to take steps to manage the risk factors that can be controlled. The disorder can be avoided or lessened by simple steps such as losing weight, eating healthy, lowering cholesterol, managing hypertension and avoiding substance use.
For more information on the arrhythmias or to find a Premier Health Specialists physician near you, visit www.premierhealthspecialists.com.
ABOUT PREMIER HEALTH SPECIALISTS: Premier Health Specialists is one of the largest groups of specialty care practices in Southwest Ohio. More than 130 physicians serve patients in a variety of specialties such as bariatrics, breast care, burn and wound, cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, cardiovascular-thoracic surgery, general surgery, gynecologic oncology, hand and reconstructive surgery, infectious diseases, maternal-fetal medicine, neurosciences, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedic surgery, orthopedic spine surgery, ophthalmology, palliative care, physiatry, plastic surgery, podiatry, psychology, pulmonology, sports medicine and urology. Premier Health Specialists is part of Premier Health, which includes Miami Valley Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital Dayton, Atrium Medical Center and Upper Valley Medical Center. For more information, visit http://www.premierhealthspecialists.org.