An arrhythmia is a medical problem that deals with the rhythm of a person's heartbeat. When a person has an arrhythmia, the heart may beat too slow, too fast or at an irregular rhythm. For instance, tachycardia is when the heart beats too fast while bradycardia is when the heart beats too slow. A majority of irregular heartbeats are nothing to worry about, but some are more serious and might require immediate medical attention because they're life threatening.
In many cases, the patient has no idea he or she has an arrhythmia. However, the most common symptoms include heart palpitations, which is the feeling like your heart is fluttering, beating too fast or too hard. The person may feel pauses in between heartbeats. Generally, the best way to tell if you have an arrhythmia is to check your heart rate and see if it between 60 and 100 beats per minute. You may also listen to your heart and hear if it's beating rhythmically. The doctor may be the one to discover an arrhythmia when you go in for an examination.
More serious symptoms are as follows: weakness, light-headedness, dizziness, sweating, fainting, nausea, near fainting, shortness of breath, chest pain and anxiety. Chest pains may be a sign as well. The heart isn't always able to pump enough blood to the body when an individual has an arrhythmia, which results in damage to the heart, brain and other organs. A cardiac monitor can give you more insight as to what your heart is doing at any given time.
Most Dangerous Arrhythmia
The most serious arrhythmia is ventricular fibrillation (VF), which is life threatening. It occurs in the lower chambers of the heart and results in the blood not being carried away from the heart. During an episode of VF, the heartbeat is interrupted and may lead to fainting or cardiac arrest. VF is most commonly caused by a heart attack, but electrocution accidents, head trauma, heart disease, heart surgery, narrowed coronary arteries and sudden cardiac death all may result in VF. On a heart monitor, the reading will be very chaotic and disorganized when VF occurs. A majority of people who experience VF have no history of heart disease. Certain factors increase a person's risk of it such as high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.
As a medical emergency, a VF needs to be treated immediately. If you see someone having one -- if they're collapsed or become unconscious -- you should dial 9-1-1. While you're waiting for an automated external defibrillator (AED), you should start doing CPR. You should use the defibrillator as soon as you have one available because treating VF requires a quick electric shock to the heart. If you've never taken American Heart classes to use one, it's not hard to use. It instructs you what to do. You apply the electrode pads and then start the device. Make sure if the person has an internal defibrillator or a pacemaker that you don't place the pads on it. Once you attach the device, it will automatically analyze the patient and send a shock if necessary. The shock resets the heart and helps the patient until emergency medical assistance can get there.
At Advanced First Aid Inc. we have everything you need. In addition we provide training to go along with the AED device which can make all the difference during the emergency situation. Please visit us at advancedfirstaidinc.com to see how we can help you.
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