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St. Vincent's Medical Center, Bridgeport CT

Electrical Problems of the Heart/ Arrhythmias

Cardiology-Heart Services - St. Vincent's Medical Center, Bridgeport CTAn arrhythmia is  a change in the rhythm or rate of your heartbeat. When it beats faster than normal, it is called tachycardia. When the heart beats too slowly, it is called bradycardia. Not all arrhythmias are serious, but for some people, they can be dangerous and require treatment.

The walls of the heart squeeze together or contract to push blood through the chambers. These contractions are controlled by an electrical signal that begins in the heart’s natural pacemaker called the sinoatrial node. Nerve impulses and hormones in the blood influence the rate of contractions, so any problem with these can cause an arrhythmia.

Causes of Arrhythmias

Minor arrhythmias may be caused by excessive alcohol use, smoking, caffeine, stress or exercise. The most common cause is heart disease particularly coronary artery disease, abnormal heart valve function and heart failure. However, arrhythmias can occur for no known reason. 

Symptoms of arrhythmias include

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

Your doctor can run tests to find out if you have an arrhythmia.

Testing

An electrophysiology (EP) study is a test that records the electrical activity and the electrical pathways of your heart. This test is used to determine the site and cause of rhythm disturbances called arrhythmias, which are related to disruption of the electrical impulses. 

Cardiac Rhythm Disorders

Cardiac specialists called electrophysiologists diagnose and treat electrical problems of the heart and complex heart rhythm disorders. These include:

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