What causes an irregular heartbeat?


Quick Answer

There are a number causes of an irregular heartbeat, including eating disorders, bulimia nervosa, atrial fibrillation, thyrotoxicosis, mitral valve prolapse and heart problems, according to Right Diagnosis. Uncommon causes include sickle cell anemia, scleroderma and chronic fatigue syndrome.

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What causes an irregular heartbeat?
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Full Answer

A failing heart muscle is a root cause of arrhythmia, otherwise known as an irregular heartbeat, notes WebMD. A person experiencing an arrythmia may not be getting enough electrolytes in the body, including potassium or sodium. Patients who recover from heart surgery are also susceptible to problematic heartbeats.

There are certain forms of arrhythmia that are common, according to WebMD. For instance, a person who undergoes strenuous physical activity can experience what feels like skipped heart beats. Those who smoke or consume excessive caffeine may experience erratic heartbeats.

Arrhythmia means that the heart is beating out of sync, but it also means that a heart is beating too slow or fast, claims WebMD. A heart that beats excessively fast is known as tachycardia, and a slower-than-normal pace is called bradycardia. For example, a heart that beats at a fast pace is associated with a form of arrhythmia known as accessory pathway tachycardia. This occurs when there is an additional pathway in the upper and lower heart chambers, allowing the heart to work faster.

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