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Heart Arrhythmia Q & A By Dr. Himanshu H. Shukla of Banner Health

By October 8, 2009 - 10:54am

Question: What is a Heart Arrhythmia?

Answer: A heart arrhythmia is a disturbance of the heart's electrical system. Arrhythmias can range from a benign finding to a potential life-threatening problem. This is why it is important to diagnose and treat these conditions.

Question: What are the symptoms of heart arrhythmias?

Answer: Unfortunately, there is no one symptom. Some common symptoms include palpitations, fatigue, fast heart rates, slow heart rates, shortness of breath, fainting and dizziness. Occasionally, patients can have heart rhythm disorders without any symptoms. In addition, there are some conditions, such as heart attacks or heart failure, that may predispose you to a heart arrhythmia and this, too, needs to be treated.

Question: Are heart arrhythmias treatable?

Answer: Fortunately, heart rhythm disorders are potentially curable. In fact, the majority of heart arrhythmias can be treated with very simple procedures. The underlying treatment depends on the diagnosis.

Question: What are dangerous heart rhythm disorders?

Answer: Sudden cardiac death is the most common dangerous heart arrhythmia. It is actually known as ventricular tachycardia. This condition is a very common cause of death, accounting for 450,000 annual deaths—more than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and AIDS combined. There are some high-risk conditions that alert us to patients who are at high risk for these disorders. Some examples include previous heart attack, bypass surgery and heart failure.

Question: Is sudden cardiac death preventable?

Answer: Yes it is. With minor surgery, patients at high risk for this dangerous arrhythmia can undergo implantation with a defibrillator. This device can actually save a life.

Answer: Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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