Since other heart disorders increase the risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms, lifestyle changes often are recommended. Living a “heart healthy” lifestyle can ease the symptoms experienced with heart rhythm disorders and other heart disorders, and can be beneficial to overall patient health.
Risk Factors for Arrhythmias and Heart Disease
The following conditions can increase the chance of developing arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms:
- Coronary artery disease (blockage in the arteries/pipes of the heart)
- High Blood Pressure
- High cholesterol
- A high-fat diet
- Excessive use of alcohol (more than 2 drinks per day)
- Drug abuse
- Family history of heart disease
- Advancing age (getting older)
- Sleep apnea
- Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies
Preventing Arrhythmias and Heart Disease
- Prevent heart disease by lowering risk factors that can lead to heart disease or cardiac heart rhythm problems, and by monitoring and treating any existing heart problems that you have.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices. Living a "heart healthy" life is the best way to reduce the chances of developing heart disorders. Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a healthy, low-fat diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and other vitamin-rich foods are the cornerstones of "heart healthy" living.
- Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke (smoke from other people). Tobacco contributes to as much as one-third of all heart disease.
- Avoid or limit the intake of caffeine, alcohol, and other recreational drugs.
- Avoid unnecessary stress, such as anger, anxiety, or fear, and find ways to manage or control stressful situations that cannot be avoided.
- Have regular physical exams and tell your doctor right away about any unusual symptoms you may have.
- Talk to a doctor about treating health problems that may contribute to abnormal heart rhythms and heart disease, including atherosclerosis("clogged" arteries), heart valve damage, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and thyroid disease.
Heart Rhythm Disorders
Millions of people experience irregular or abnormal heartbeats, called arrhythmias, at some point in their lives. Most of the time, they are harmless and happen in healthy people free of heart disease. However, some abnormal heart rhythms can be serious or even deadly. Having other types of heart disease can also increase the risk of arrhythmias.
Pediatrics and Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)
This section is for pediatric patients and families living with heart rhythm disorders and heart rhythm disorders related to congenital heart disease (CHD).
Early Warning Signs
If you are experiencing a racing, pounding, rumbling or flopping feeling in your chest or if you have been fainting, having repeated dizzy spells, feeling lightheaded or you are extremely fatigued, it's time to see a doctor to discuss your heart health.
Learning about the underlying cause of any heart rhythm disorder provides the basis for selecting the best treatment plan. Information and knowledge about care options, and their risks and benefits help you work with your health care provider to make the best choices.
The Normal Heart
The heart is a fist-sized muscle that pumps blood through the body 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without rest. The normal heart is made up of four parts: two atria on the top of the heart (right atrium and left atrium), and two ventricles (right ventricle and left ventricle) which are the muscular chambers on the bottom of the heart that provide the major power to pump blood.