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What is Arrhythmia?

More than four million Americans have an irregular heartbeat, also known as cardiac arrhythmia. An arrhythmia results when a problem occurs along the heart’s electrical pathway that causes the heart rhythm (heart beat) to become too slow, too fast or irregular.

Some minor arrhythmias are harmless, whereas some can contribute to the development of a potentially life-threatening stroke, or even cardiac death. That’s why proper diagnosis and treatment from a healthcare provider experienced in arrhythmia management is vital.

Symptoms of Arrhythmia

Arrhythmias, whether severe or mild, may or may not cause noticeable symptoms. However, when symptoms of an arrhythmia occur, they may include:

  • ​Weakness or Fatigue
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness
  • Fainting or near-fainting spells
  • Rapid heartbeat, skipped heartbeats, or pounding in chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort
  • In extreme cases, collapse and sudden cardiac arrest

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek evaluation and treatment from a healthcare expert experienced in arrhythmia management.​ For more about the prevention, symptoms and risk factors of arrhythmia, visit the American Heart Association.

Types of Arrhythmia

Arrhythmias can occur in the upper (supraventricular) or lower (ventricular) chambers of the heart and can result in a heart rhythm that is too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregular. Learn more about Types of Arrhythmia.

There are many types of arrhythmia, including:

  • Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) – The most common type of serious arrhythmia. It involves a very fast, irregular contraction of the upper chambers of the heart.
  • Bradyarrhythmias – A bradyarrhythmia is a slow heart rhythm usually caused by sinus node dysfunction or heart block.
  • Premature Contraction – Early, extra heartbeats that can originate in the upper or the lower chambers of the heart.
  • Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) – Describes a number of rapid heart rhythm disorders originating in the upper chambers of the heart. The most common type of SVT is atrial fibrillation.
  • Ventricular Arrhythmias – Describes a number of heart rhythm disorders originating in the lower chambers of the heart. The most serious is ventricular fibrillation, which interferes with the heart’s ability to pump blood, leading to cardiac arrest.

View the AHA’s animation of the most common types of arrhythmia​. (Scroll to “Select a Condition” at the bottom right corner of the graphic to choose the type of arrhythmia you wish to view.)

Progressive Arrhythmia Management

When it comes to diagnosing and treating cardiac arrhythmia, Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute is a nationally recognized leader in comprehensive arrhythmia management. With its exceptional team of physician experts and staff, progressive technology, and state-of-the-art facilities, Hoag continues to lead the way in comprehensive cardiovascular care both locally and nationwide.

Read a Hoag Health Magazine article on the Importance of Diagnosing and Treating Arrhythmia​.

Learn more about Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute's top rated arrhythmia management program: