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Arrhythmia

Related Terms

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Background

  • Arrhythmia, also called dysrhythmia, is a disturbance of the heart's normal rhythm. When the heart beats, the electrical impulses that cause it to contract must follow a precise pathway through the heart. Any interruption in these impulses can cause an arrhythmia. Arrhythmias cause the heart to pump blood less effectively.
  • In an arrhythmia, the heart beats may be too slow (bradycardia, slower than 60 beats per minute), too rapid (tachycardia, greater than 100 beats per minute), too irregular (atrial or ventricular fibrillation), or too early (premature contraction).
  • Each day, a normal heart contracts about 100,000 times, at a rate anywhere from 60-100 times a minute. Changes in rate brought about by variations in activity, diet, medications, and age are normal and common. During intense exercise, a heart may speed up to 160-180 or more beats a minute. Running up a flight of stairs or being startled by a noise account for normal increases in heart rates as well. The rapid-fire contractions in all these situations are faster than the normal resting heart rate range, yet they pose no danger.
  • In most people, arrhythmias are minor and are not dangerous. A small number of people, however, have arrhythmias that are dangerous and require treatment. Arrhythmias are also more serious if the individual has other heart problems, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or high blood pressure.
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Types of Arrhythmia

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Risk Factors and Causes

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Signs and Symptoms

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Diagnosis

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Complications

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.