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What is arrhythmia?

The Heart is a Pump…

The heart is a muscle which acts as a pump to distribute blood throughout the body. Blood picks up oxygen from the lungs which is then transported to the top left chamber of the heart (atrium). The left atrium then pumps this blood into the bottom left chamber of the heart (ventricle). From there it is pumped throughout the body. Once the oxygen in the blood has been fed to the body, the used blood returns to the right atrium and is pumped into the right ventricle for distribution to the lungs. The cycle then begins again. Since the top and bottom chambers of the heart squeeze together in a rhythm, the cycle continuously repeats itself. An electrical signal in the heart triggers each cycle.

What is an Arrhythmia?
An “arrhythmia” is a disturbance in the rhythm of your heart beat that may result from “short circuits” anywhere in the electrical pathways of the heart. Normally the heart beats in a regular way like a clock. However, many people have heart rates that are too fast, too slow, or irregular. These abnormal heart rhythms are referred to as arrhythmias.
Some arrhythmias are harmless, however some arrhythmias can be serious and can cause the heart to stop beating, an event called Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). This is not the same as a heart attack or a Myocardial Infarction (MI), which is a blockage in the artery (plumbing system) that supplies blood to the heart and does not necessarily affect the electrical system.

Sometimes arrhythmias can cause symptoms such as heart palpitations (a racing heart or a pounding feeling), light-headedness, fainting, shortness of breath, or they may occur without any symptoms at all. Some arrhythmias do not require any treatment. For others, treatments may include medication, surgery, external shock, or the use of a device such as a pacemaker or an implantable defibrillator.

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