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What causes heart arrhythmia?

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Quick Answer

Typical causes of heart arrhythmia include changes of the heart’s structure, high blood pressure, stress, overactive thyroid gland and drinking too much alcohol, states Mayo Clinic. Other causes include healing after heart surgery, low potassium levels and abnormalities of the heart, according to Healthline.

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Full Answer

Heart arrhythmia is when the heart beats irregularly, either too slow or too fast, notes Mayo Clinic. This condition may cause no symptoms, but when the symptoms occur, the patient may experience chest pain, a racing heartbeat, fainting and shortness of breath.

Narrowed heart arteries, abnormal heart valves, a heart attack and heart failure are common risk factors of heart arrhythmia, reports Mayo Clinic. Hypertension increases the risk of developing coronary artery disease and causes the walls of the left ventricle to become thick and stiff, changing how electrical impulses travel through the heart. The risk of developing high blood pressure and heart problems also increases with uncontrolled diabetes.

Electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium and potassium conduct and trigger the electrical impulses of the heart, claims Mayo Clinic. Too low or too high levels of these electrolytes interfere with the electrical impulses, causing heart arrhythmia. The same effect occurs from an underactive or overactive thyroid gland, drinking too much alcohol and using stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine.

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