Understanding arrhythmia and its effects

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Arrhythmia is a common condition yet many people do not know what it is, if they suffer from it or how to find out if they are affected. With this month highlighting heart rhythm awareness, ER24 is urging people to find out more about arrhythmia. Below are some details about the condition. What is arrhythmia? Arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart beats abnormally. The heart could either be beating rapidly or chaotically, slower or faster than normal or some beats could be triggered too early. Are arrhythmias life threatening? Arrhythmias can be harmless, serious or life threatening. What is the normal adult heart rate? The normal adult heart rate at rest ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. However, having a heartbeat faster than 100 beats per minute or lower than 60 beats per minute does not always mean you are at risk. For example, people experience a faster heartbeat when exercising and a slower than normal heartbeat when sleeping. If you are physically fit, your normal resting heartbeat may be lower than 60 beats a minute. What causes arrhythmia? Causes include disease of the heart muscle, coronary arteries or valves, disease of the electrical system of the heart or damage from a heart attack. High blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, stress and some medications can also result in arrhythmia. What are the symptoms? You may not notice symptoms with some arrhythmias. Symptoms experienced by some people may include shortness of breath, chest discomfort, palpitations, dizziness, fatigue or sweating. You could also suffer a stroke or go into cardiac arrest. How can I check for irregularities? You can feel your pulse on your wrist by placing the tips of your index and middle fingers on the inner wrist of your other arm, just below the bottom of your thumb. Press your wrist lightly until you feel your pulse. Count the number of beats in 30 seconds and multiply by two to determine your heart rate in beats per minute. What should I do if I am unsure if I have arrhythmia? Consult a medical practitioner.

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