The heart beats in a regular rhythm at a rate between 60 to 100 beats per minute. In certain situations, the heart can beat in an irregular fashion. There can be a number of reasons for this.
Patients who suffer from irregular heart rhythms may or may not have symptoms. Some types of irregular rhythms are of no real concern, while some can be life threatening.
An irregular heart rhythm is called an ‘arrhythmia’. It occurs because electrical activity in the heart is either erratic or is disrupted due to problems with the heart muscle. When the heart beats irregularly, it does not pump blood effectively to the vital organs. This can cause a variety of symptoms.
Types of arrhythmias
Broadly classified, irregular heart beats can be classified in 2 different ways.
1. Site of origin
Irregular rhythms can be either arising from the top of the heart (atrial arrhythmias) or bottom of the heart (ventricular arrhythmias).
2. Heart rate
A fast rate above 100 beats per minute is called a tachycardia, while a slow rate below 60 is called bradycardia.
Atrial arrhythmias are the ones that arise from the top chamber of the heart. The common ones encountered include –
- Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) – Read more here
- Atrial fibrillation (AF) – Read more here
- Atrial Flutter – Read more here
- Atrial (supraventricular ectopics) – Read more here
These arise from the bottom chamber of the heart. They include
- Ventricular ectopics – Read more here
- Ventricular tachycardia (VT) – Read more here
- Ventricular fibrillation (VF) – Read more here