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What is an arrhythmia? What causes irregular heartbeat?

Arrhythmias can manifest in various forms, including irregular heartbeats, extra heartbeats and skipped beats, causing disruptions in the normal pumping action of the heart. Common symptoms of abnormal heartbeat include palpitations,  a sensation of fluttering or rapid heartbeat, chest discomfort or pain, being lightheaded or shortness of breath. Some individuals may experience blackouts or near-fainting episodes, especially if the arrhythmia significantly affects blood flow to the brain.

To diagnose arrhythmias, an electrocardiogram (ECG) is crucial. An ECG records the electrical activity of the heart, allowing doctors to identify abnormal heart rhythm, arrhythmia. However, since arrhythmias can be intermittent, a standard ECG may not always capture the irregularities. In such cases, a more prolonged monitoring test, called Holter is used. 

A Holter monitor is a portable device worn by the patient for an extended period, even up to 2 weeks, continuously recording the heart’s electrical activity. 

Treatment strategies for arrhythmias aim to restore and maintain a normal heart rhythm, alleviate symptoms, and reduce the risk of complications such as stroke or heart failure. The choice of treatment depends on various factors, including the type of arrhythmia, its underlying cause, the severity of symptoms, and the patient’s overall health.

One common approach to managing arrhythmias is through medication. So called, antiarrhythmic drugs can help to stabilise the heart’s electrical activity, regulate heart rate, and reduce the frequency of abnormal heartbeats. However, for certain types of arrhythmias that are refractory to medication or pose a significant risk to the patient’s health, invasive procedures such as catheter ablation or implantation of a pacemaker or defibrillator may be recommended. Cardioversion is also often performed to restore patient`s normal heartbeat, so called sinus rhythm.

Commonly seen arrhythmias include atrial fibrillation (AF), atrial flutter, supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), atrial/ventricular ectopy or heart blocks.

In our clinics, we possess the expertise to accurately diagnose and effectively treat the above conditions. 

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