Cardiac Arrhythmia | Sentara Heart Hospital | Sentara Healthcare
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About Cardiac Arrhythmia 

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An arrhythmia (ah-RITH-me-ah) is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.

Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can be serious or even life threatening. When the heart rate is too fast, too slow, or irregular, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. Lack of blood flow can damage the brain, heart, and other organs.

Types of Cardiac Arrhythmia

 


Tachycardia

Fast heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute  

Bradycardia

Slow heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute  

Atrial Fibrillation
(Most Common Type)
FAQs

Quivering, chaotic motion in the upper chambers (atria) of the heart, usually due to an underlying medical condition

Ventricular Fibrillation

Partial or complete impairment in the transmission of signals from the heart's upper chambers to its lower chambers, resulting in the improper beating of the heart

Heart Block

Partial or complete impairment in the transmission of signals from the heart's upper chambers to its lower chambers, resulting in the improper beating of the heart

Ventricular Tachycardia

An abnormally rapid heart rhythm that originates from one of the lower chambers of the heart (ventricle)

 

 Watch animated illustrations of several types of cardiac arrhythmia.
Your Heart's Normal Electrical System

To understand cardiac arrhythmia, it is best to understand how the heart's normal electrical system works.

The heart is a muscle that functions as a pump to circulate blood throughout the body. It is divided into right and left sides, and each side has an upper and lower chamber. The two upper chambers are the atria, and the lower chambers are the ventricles.

Heart “beats” or contractions are synchronized, and each contraction is started by an electrical signal from an area in the right atrium known as the sinus node. This is the “pacemaker” of the heart. From the sinus node the electrical current travels down to an area called the atrioventricular node, and then completes its circuit through the ventricles on a specific path. The heart muscle responds to the electric signal and contracts to pump blood to the lungs and body.


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