In a nutshell, the heart works by pumping blood to the different parts of the body in order for it to function. But looking within, the heart is composed of an intricate system of nodes, valves, and chambers that all work harmoniously to keep this vital organ pumping. If any of its parts is damaged, it can change the pattern of the heart’s beating.
Medically called arrhythmia, these irregular heart rhythms occur when the heart beats too slowly, too fast, or at an irregular rhythm. While not all arrhythmias are serious, it’s still best to report any occurrence to your doctor. The question is, How do you know whether your heart rate is already a cause for concern?
A fluttering in your chest
Having arrhythmias may make you feel extra heartbeats or fluttering in your chest. Other times, you may feel like your heartbeat is too fast or too hard or that it is “skipping a beat.” This fluttering feeling in your chest is often called palpitations, which you may feel in your neck, throat, or chest.
While feeling palpitations can be frightening or bothersome, they are usually not serious and will often disappear on their own.
Since the common nonheart-related cause of palpitations include strong emotions such as fear or anxiety, intake of caffeine or alcohol, or ingestion of certain medications like diet pills, it’s best to avoid these triggers as much as possible. Talk to your doctor about how these may have contributed to your arrhythmia.
A racing heartbeat
While it is common for our heart rate to rise in certain cases, such as during exercise or as a physiological reaction to stress, people who have arrhythmia may find their heart beating faster than normal, even at rest. Also known as tachycardia, this racing heartbeat is characterized as an irregular heartbeat that exceeds beyond 100 beats per minute. If left untreated, tachycardia can compromise the heart’s function and can progress to serious complications such as stroke, heart failure, or sudden cardiac arrest.
There are numerous factors that may cause tachycardia, but if it is due to existing heart disease, the best way to prevent it is to eliminate the risk factor. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure levels under control are excellent ways of doing your heart a favor.
A slow heartbeat
While you may not feel that your heartbeat is particularly slow, you may often notice that you feel especially weak and exhausted or are having trouble breathing during physical activity. Bradycardia, the medical term for such condition, is having a heartbeat count of below 60. While some people, like older adults or athletes, have naturally low heartbeats, it is best to report such occurrence to your doctor to keep your heart’s status in check.
There are several factors that can contribute to a slowing of the heart rate, which includes certain conditions like hypothyroidism, complete heart block, and heart disease. Oxygen deprivation, which can be determined through the use of a compatible oxygen sensor, is also one factor that could potentially slow down one’s heart rate. To avoid this symptom, it is advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible to get prompt treatment.
Dizziness or lightheadedness
A person experiencing an arrhythmia may feel lightheaded or dizzy, which is the result of ineffective pumping of blood by the heart. Because of the abnormally slowing or quickening of the heartbeat, one’s blood pressure decreases, reducing the amount of blood that is able to reach the brain. This lack of blood flow to the brain contributes to the sensation of dizziness or a feeling of fainting. Some can even lose consciousness because of this symptom.
Dizziness may not only be caused by arrhythmia. A better way to correctly diagnose and treat your condition is to schedule a consultation with your doctor. This is because lightheadedness can be caused by a lot of things, including panic or anxiety attacks, hyperventilation, excessive fluid loss in the case of diarrhea or vomiting, or prolonged standing. If you have been getting irregular heart rates, it’s best to avoid activities or instances that could lead to such factors.
It is always important, in any situation to keep constant contact with your doctor. Technology has made health monitoring more convenient these days, so let’s take advantage of it. You could make a scheduled video conference with your doctor, in alternative of going to his/her clinic. Doctors, in special circumstances, can visit the patient’s home for a consultation. There are a few alternatives you can try so that consultation will always be made available to have a healthy heart going.
The heart is one of the most vital organs of our body, which should urge us to take care of it the most. Stay on top of your overall health by taking note of these pieces of advice—and by heart, at that.