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An arrhythmia is a general term that describes any disorder of your heart rate or rhythm. A rate or rhythm disorder could be defined as your heart beating too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. When your heart beats too slowly, it is called bradycardia. When your heart beats too fast, it is called tachycardia. Most arrhythmias are harmless, but certain cases can be serious or even life threatening. When your heart rate is too slow, too fast, or irregular, your heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. Lack of blood flow to the body can damage the brain, heart, and other organs. 

There are many factors that can affect your heart's rhythm, such as having had a heart attack, blood chemistry imbalances or abnormal hormone levels. Certain substances or medicines can also cause arrhythmias. 

Symptoms of arrhythmias include: 

  • Fast or slow heart beat
  • Skipping beats
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Paleness
  • Sweating  

Your doctor can conduct a thorough examination of your heart to determine if you have an arrhythmia. Treatment to restore a normal heart rhythm may include medicines, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) or a pacemaker.


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