What is cardiac arrhythmia?

Heart rhythm disturbance or cardiac arrhythmia occurs when electrical impulses that initiate cardiac contraction are not functioning correctly, causing the heart to beat too fast or too slowly, or irregularly, irregularly.

Arrhythmias are common and, as a rule, are not dangerous. In most cases, a person feels a loss of one or more cuts, interruptions in the work of the heart - "it beats, it does not beat," or a very frequent heartbeat. However, there are arrhythmias, the symptoms of which are dangerous, up to the threat of life.

Progress in medical technologies enriched the physician with new therapeutic techniques and procedures that allow controlling and eliminating arrhythmias. In addition, since arrhythmia can worsen, and in some cases, itself has a damaging effect on the heart (depletes the heart muscle, disrupts the valve apparatus, causes an increase in the size of the heart cavities), the risk of arrhythmia can be reduced by engaging in a healthy lifestyle that includes the right Nutrition and exercise.

Symptoms of arrhythmia

Arrhythmias may not appear. The doctor can detect the arrhythmia before she shows herself with any signs, at the usual dispensary examination. But more often heart rhythm disturbances cause noticeable changes in the condition, which include the signs:

  • Heart palpitations and chest discomforts
  • Very fast heartbeat
  • Extremely slow heartbeat
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness or feeling close to fainting

Even such significant symptoms of ill health do not always indicate a serious problem. Very often people who experience arrhythmia do not suffer from severe heart disease, while a person with a life-threatening arrhythmia can not make any complaints at all.

Normal heartbeat

The heart consists of 4 cavities. On each side of the right and left there are two pumps: at the top of the auricle and below - the ventricles.

During cardiac contraction, the cells with a thin muscle layer and a smaller size contract, contributing to the filling of the relaxed ventricles with blood. The contraction begins when the sinus node - a small group of cells in the right atrium - sends an electrical impulse, which causes both atria to contract. Then the impulse moves to the atrio-ventricular node, located in the heart of the heart and lying in the place of the atrial transition into the ventricles. Exiting the atrioventricular node, the impulse passes to the ventricles. As a result, the latter contract and push blood to all organs.

In a healthy heart, this process occurs evenly and continuously with a heart rate of 60-100 per minute in a calm state. In athletes, especially athletes with peace of mind, the pulse rate is usually less than 60, since their heart is much more trained than an ordinary person and has a lot of muscle power, pushing out a large amount of blood for one reduction. In children, on the contrary, the pulse is normal at more than 100 beats per minute, and in infancy it is 140-160 cuts per minute.

Causes of arrhythmia

The most frequent causes of arrhythmia or condition leading to its development are heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, excessive use of alcohol and caffeine, abuse of medicines, stress. In some cases, the reasons for the development of arrhythmias may be an overdose of certain drugs, the use of dietary supplements and herbal medicines.

Scars can occur for various reasons. The most common of these is acute myocardial infarction. Such a scar prevents the formation of an electrical impulse and / or interrupts the passage of a pulse through the heart muscle.

In a healthy person with a healthy heart, the development of stable arrhythmia is impossible without the presence of an external trigger, such as an electric shock. This is primarily due to the fact that in a healthy heart there are no pathological substrates for the development of arrhythmias, including scar tissue.

On the other hand, in hearts with signs of arrhythmia, the formation and / or propagation of an electrical impulse can be disturbed, facilitating the development of the disease.

Any of the following conditions can lead to arrhythmia:

  • Inadequate blood supply. If the flow of blood to the heart is reduced for any reason, it can change the ability of cells to form and conduct electrical impulses
  • Damage or death of the heart muscle. Damage or death of the heart muscle leads to a change in the path of electrical impulses along it.

Among heart disease - the causes of arrhythmias are of particular importance:

  • Ischemic heart disease (CHD). Despite the fact that many types of arrhythmias are registered in IHD, ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death are most strongly associated with it. The narrowing of the arteries occurs until, as a result of lack of blood flow, part of the heart muscle dies (acute myocardial infarction). This can affect the process of electric pulse propagation through the myocardium: small electrical excitation circles are formed on the border of scar tissue that disrupt the normal functioning of the heart, causing pathologically fast heartbeat (ventricular tachycardia) and flutter or ventricular fibrillation - ineffective chaotic ventricular contractions.
  • Cardiomyopathy. It is manifested by primary stretching and thinning of the walls of the ventricles and atria (dilated cardiomyopathy) or excessive thickening and re-shrinking of the walls of the left ventricle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). With any variant of cardiomyopathy, the effectiveness of cardiac output decreases (the amount of blood ejected by the left ventricle into the aorta decreases for nutrition of all organs and tissues of the body), and some of the blood remains in the left and right ventricles or is thrown back into the atria and the veins that enter them.
  • Diseases of the heart valves. The defeat of heart valves by infectious agents or due to degenerative degeneration leads to narrowing of the valve orifices and / or insufficient closure of the valves, i. E. Insufficiency of valves. When the heart cavity is stretched and weakened due to inadequate operation of the valves, the risk of developing various types of heart rhythm disturbances increases.

Complications of arrhythmia

A number of heart rhythm disturbances can increase the risk of developing such conditions and diseases as:

Stroke. When the atria fibrillate, they are not able to adequately transfer blood to the ventricles. The slowing of the blood flow in the atria leads to the formation of clots. If a small piece is detached from the clot, it can enter the blood stream, spread throughout the body and clog the cerebral arteries, causing the development of ischemic stroke, i.e. Damage or death of part of the brain, and sometimes leads to death.

Congestive heart failure. Because of the long period of bradycardia or tachycardia, for example, atrial fibrillation, the heart can be reduced ineffectively. By controlling the heart rate, it is possible to improve the contractility of the left ventricle and reduce the signs of heart failure.