Arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm.
If you experience palpitations (a racing heartbeat or your heart feeling like it skips beats) when you exercise, are stressed or have caffeine or nicotine, these could be a symptom of arrhythmia. You should see a doctor to find out the cause.
The term arrhythmia refers to any changes in the electrical impulses in your heart.
It may be that the impulses start to happen too fast or too slow or irregularly. It means the heart is not able to work properly. This can happen as a result of heart disease or due to:
- Medicines or stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine
- A coronary artery spasm, which is a temporary discomfort or pain in the chest caused by a constriction of one of your coronary arteries, which can block the blood supply to your heart. Spasms can range from mild to severe and could block your artery completely, bringing about a heart attack
- Blocked electrical signals, abnormal pathways or irritable heart cells sending out signals when they shouldn’t
If you suspect you have arrhythmia you should seek medical advice. There are treatments that can help to varying degrees, depending on the severity and how they are affecting you. Treatments could be medical or surgical – for example the installation of medical devices such as pacemakers or cardiac defibrillators, in more severe cases.
As with other heart conditions, a healthy lifestyle
can play an important factor in improving symptoms and recovery.