Causes of Arrhythmias

An Arrhythmia is defined as an irregular heartbeat.

Working of the Circulatory System

The circulatory system is made up of the heart, arteries and veins. Arteries are blood vessels that carry the purified or oxygenated blood from the heart to the cells and the organs of the body. The cells use the oxygen from this blood in order to create energy and to function properly. In the process they release carbon dioxide into the blood. This deoxygenated blood is carried by the veins back to the heart where the blood is oxygenated and again pumped into the blood for circulation. The main role of the circulatory system is to deliver oxygen and nutrients to every cell and take away their waste products. The heart is located inside the chest, in front of the lungs and slightly to the left.

The heart is made up of four chambers. The upper chambers are called as atria and the lower chambers are called as ventricles. The atria are divided into right atrium and left atrium by the auricular wall. The ventricles are divided into right and left ventricles by the ventricular wall. The right atrium takes in deoxygenated blood, which is then squeezed into the right ventricle and pumped to the lungs. Oxygenated blood from the lungs travels to the left atrium and from there, enters the left ventricle and is pumped around the body. The contractions of the chambers make the sound of heartbeats. A special cluster of cells, situated in the right atrium and called the sinus node, regulates the heart rate.

Causes of arrhythmia in a healthy heart

Depending on a person’s age and level of fitness, the heart beats (on average) between 60 and 100 times every minute. Heart rates can also be irregular. Almost everyone experiences a palpitation occasionally. This may be the result of a very brief period of irregular heartbeat.

Some of the common causes of arrhythmia in a healthy heart are listed below:

  • Physical exertion
  • Sudden emotional disturbances
  • Excessive intake of caffeine
  • Sudden rush of adrenaline as a result of fear or excitement

Arrhythmia can also be caused as a result of some drugs

Some of the common drugs and medications that are associated with arrhythmia are listed below

  1. Appetite suppressants
  2. Beta blockers
  3. Amphetamines
  4. Some asthma medications
  5. Thyroid medications
  6. Caffeine
  7. Cocaine
  8. Nicotine in cigarette smoke

Serious health problems that can cause arrhythmia

Arrhythmia can also be an associated symptom of some serious health conditions. These are listed below:

  1. Coronary artery disease
  2. Previous heart attack
  3. Congenital valve abnormalities
  4. Hyperthyroidism
  5. Electrolyte imbalance in the body
  6. Abnormalities in the heart valve

The occasional presence of an irregular heart beat generally does not affect the health and well being of an individual. However, consistent irregularities of the heartbeat should be investigated by a doctor. If along with palpitations an individual also complains of other symptoms such as pain in chest, dizziness, difficulty in breathing and fainting, then he should seek urgent medical assistance.

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