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What are heart rhythms?

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Quick Answer

Abnormal heart rhythms, also known as arrhythmias, means that the heart is beating irregularity, explains WebMD. Heart arrhythmias are caused by different diseases and conditions, from heart disease to electrolyte imbalance, and can be life-threatening or harmless.

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What are heart rhythms?
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Full Answer

There are many different types of arrhythmia, and they can occur in healthy individuals, notes WebMD. Common causes include heart disease, electrolyte imbalance, injury from heart attack and heart surgery complications. An arrhythmia can be completely silent, meaning the patient exhibits no symptoms, and it may only be detected during a physical exam by a doctor. However, symptoms can include palpitations, pounding in the chest, dizziness and fainting.

There are many different tests for arrhythmia that range from simple stress tests, which monitor how the heart behaves during physical exertion, to more advanced tests such as an electrocardiogram, which records the electrical activity of the heart through electrode patches placed on the skin, according to WebMD.

Antiarrhythmic drugs exist that control heart rhythms, notes WebMD. An anticoagulant reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke associated with an arrhythmia. However, simple behavioral changes can also make a difference. Limiting smoking, alcohol consumption or caffeine consumption can all have positive effects for patients with an arrhythmia. Finally, a pacemaker works to control and regulate the heart by sending electrical pulses to keep the heart at a safe and steady rate.

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