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Irregular Heart Rhythm Symptoms For Women

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Dr. Kaplan describes the symptom differences between men and women who have irregular heart rhythms. Dr. Kaplan is a board certified Cardiovascular Disease and Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa, Arizona.

Dr. Kaplan:
Let’s talk about the irregularities in the heartbeat which can occur. These maybe different in men and women but we know across the board that they have certain similar traits.

The heartbeat, under normal circumstances, is nothing that one should appreciate except under vigorous activity with an elevated rate. In other words, we should feel that our heartbeat is either not present at all or is nice and regular.

When that is disturbed, when the heartbeat becomes erratic, uneven or more rapid than what we would anticipate, this becomes uncomfortable and this is what we call palpitations. Palpitations maybe present in people of all ages and maybe present in both men and women to varying degrees.

However, we also know that men and women differ physiologically in terms of their heartbeat. For instance, women tend to have a faster heart rate at rest than do men, and that heart rate may become accentuated under certain circumstances in which there are hormonal changes. Examples of this would include pregnancy where the heart rate can feel much faster than normal or as patients approach menopause in which case with shifts in it, estrogen levels and hormone levels, they may be more prone to having extra beats.

Let me give you an example of a patient that I saw recently with rhythm problems. This patient is a 25-year-old woman who previously had been in good health but had become pregnant several months prior. She began to notice that in general her heart rate was much higher than normal and whenever she tried to do anything, walking upstairs or carrying her other children, that the heartbeat seem to be a lot faster. The result of this was that she felt light headed and short of breath.

In addition, she developed symptoms in which her heartbeat was normal and then all of a sudden would accelerate. What we diagnosed her as having was supraventricular tachycardia or SVT. So she had a combination of an elevated heart rate, which we call sinus tachycardia, as well as SVT.

About Dr. Andrew Kaplan, M.D.:
Dr. Kaplan is a cardiac electrophysiologist at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa, Arizona. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. in 1983, he attended medical school at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas. He later went on to do his residency in Internal Medicine, at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Dr. Kaplan did cardiovascular and electrophysiology fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine and served as Chief Resident in Internal Medicine at the Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

Conditions: Arrhythmia, Supraventricular Tachycardia, Cardiac Rhythm Disorders

Related Terms: Palpitations, Heartbeat, Estrogen, Premature Beats, EKG, Premature Contractions, Irregular Heart Rhythm, Echocardiogram, Syncope, Cardiac Death

Expert: Dr. Andrew Kaplan, Andrew Kaplan, MD, Cardiology, Dr. Andrew J. Kaplan, M.D., Doctor Kaplan

Expertise: Electrophysiologist, Heart Rhythm Center, Robotic Catheter Ablation, 3D Heart Mapping, Arrhythmia Treatments, Heart Disease Prevention, SVT, Sinus Node Dysfunction, Sick Sinus Syndrome, Long QT Syndrome, Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Atrial fibrillation, AFIB , Hansen Robotic System, RF Radio Frequency Ablation, Cryoablation

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Is it true that if left untreated SVT ( had it off and on for 30 years ) can cause damage to the heart valves? I have had an ablation to correct the problem in Sept of 2009 but lately my heart is feeling funny again. I have had in the past comfirmation of leaky valves.
What symptoms should I watch out for before I should seek treatment for this. Does leaky valves starve the heart of oxygen?

January 20, 2011 - 10:26am
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