The electrical signals controlling the heart beats rhythmic patterns can get blocked or slow down at times, leading to condition called as arrhythmia. This occurs when the specific nerve cells that generate these electric signals function improperly or when these electric signals do not pass effectively through the heart. Moreover, at times certain electrical signals are generated by the heart itself, in addition to the usual neuronal signals, thereby disrupting the rhythmic pattern of heart beats that can cause heart to beat too slow (bradycardia) or too fast (tachycardia) or too irregularly (fibrillation) or too early (premature contraction). Normally, we do experience certain irregular heartbeats making us feel like heart is fluttering or racing and such occasional arrhythmias are completely harmless. Certain arrhythmias that result from weakened or damaged heart may lead to severe conditions that can be potentially fatal too.
Important Causes Of Arrhythmia
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Under coronary artery disease, the arteries of heart gets narrowed, resulting in difficulty for heart to function that may result in decay of specific heart muscles in absence of adequate blood flow to them. These weakened muscles of the heart may result in a heart attack. Heart attack leads to scarring of tissues of the heart that interferes with adequate movement of electrical signals that cause the heart to beat. As a result, heart tends to either beat irregularly (ventricular fibrillation) or beat at a fast pace (ventricular tachycardia).
Cardiomyopathy is disease of the heart muscles, where the ventricle walls get enlarged or stretched out or the wall become constrict and thicken further. This hampers the blood pumping efficiency of the heart, resulting in complete heart tissue damage and development of irregular heart patterns.
A healthy individual will not suffer from long term arrhythmia unless triggered by some external factors like drug abuse (cocaine or amphetamines), alcohol abuse, mental stress, electric shock, smoking, excess coffee consumption or disease like hypothyroidism, hypertension, diabetes or even with use of prescribed medications or certain dietary supplements. These triggers affect the passage of electrical signals through the heart, increasing the probability of arrhythmia, in otherwise normal individual too.
Even strong emotional instability or stress can cause a rise of stress hormones and blood pressure. As a result, the heart tends to put more efforts to perform its function. The harder pressure also tends to disrupt the electrical impulses of the heart, leading to arrhythmias.
Congenital Heart Defects
Certain defects of heart can be present from birth itself, such congenital heart defects may lead to arrhythmias like Woff Parkinson White syndrome. In Woff Parkinson White syndrome, there is a presence of an extra electrical pathway that disrupts the normal pattern of heart beat resulting in periods of rapid heartbeat (tachycardia). The episodes of fast heart rates appear foremost when children reach their teenage or early 20s. People of all ages can experience symptoms of this disease, if they suffer from congenital heart defects.
Valvular Heart Diseases
At certain times, there occurs a leakage or narrowing of the valves of the heart, resulting in thickening and narrowing of the heart muscles. This thickening of muscles alters the ability of heart to conduct electrical impulses risking the development of arrhythmia. The altered or damaged heart tissues affect the way the electrical impulses get spread through the heart.
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