abnormal or irregular heartbeats, and very common. Most people have experienced
an arrhythmia. Most arrhythmias are harmless. You may have an arrhythmia and have
no symptoms. Your doctor may be the first to notice signs of an arrhythmia.
This will probably be during a routine physical exam when he or she listens to
your heartbeat or performs an ECG (electrocardiogram).
The most common
signs and symptoms of arrhythmias include:
a feeling that your heart is skipping a beat or fluttering
heartbeat that is too fast or “racing”
heartbeat that is too slow
or near fainting
The symptoms of an arrhythmia
are often ignored. If your heartbeat is sometimes irregular, your heart races
without reason, or you’re unable to easily bring your heart rate down after
exercise, you may want to see your doctor.
In addition to a
racing, erratic, or too-slow heartbeat, if you have symptoms such as fainting,
shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, or chest pain, it’s important
to seek medical care immediately. These symptoms may also be caused by other
problems that require urgent diagnosis.
Some arrhythmias are medical emergencies. They must be
treated as soon as possible. If left untreated, they can damage your heart or
brain, or cause death. Ventricular fibrillation (a fast, chaotic heartbeat), for
example, can be deadly if not treated with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
and defibrillation as soon as possible.