The heart is one of the most important organs in the body, and it is important to take care of it. Getting it checked from time to time is a step in the right direction.
While heart conditions were once associated with old age, nowadays, they have started to affect young people as well, mainly because of their lifestyle habits, everyday stress, etc. Doctors, therefore, advise that people become proactive and take necessary steps to reduce the burden of heart diseases.
On World Heart Rhythm Week (June 7 to June 13), Dr Jitendra Singh Makkar, director cardiology, Eternal Heart Care Centre, Jaipur emphasises on heart palpitations, which make the heart beat too fast, sometimes skipping a beat and often going unnoticed.
“Most of the time, these are caused by stress, anxiety, over-exercising, or if one has consumed excessive caffeine or alcohol. But these disturbances can also be due to abnormal heartbeats caused by a change in the heart’s electrical system. These can cause the heart to speed up, skip a beat, or slow down with no obvious reason,” he tells indianexpress.com.
The doctor cautions that sometimes the heart’s electrical system may not work properly because of a serious cardiovascular disease, chemicals in the blood, etc. “These changes in the heart’s electrical system can cause abnormal heart beats or rhythms called arrhythmias. While some arrhythmias may not affect the overall health, some others may turn out to be life-threatening.”
Arrhythmias can be categorised into two types:
Tachycardia: More than 100 beats per minute, it happens when the heart beats too fast. Certain forms are easily treated, but some can be fatal. Tachycardia can be triggered by a normal physical activity response, but can also indicate a medical problem.
Bradycardia: Less than 60 beats per minute, it happens when the heart beats too slow. This condition usually tends to turn serious as it cannot pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body.
A few lifestyle changes can help manage the condition — like easing up stress and anxiety through meditation, yoga, cutting down on alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, or avoiding medications that act as stimulants such as cough/cold medicines and steroids/nutritional supplements, says Dr Makkar.
Watch out for these signs:
– Rapid heartbeat or pounding in the chest
– Fatigue or weakness
– Dizziness or light-headedness
– Fainting or near-fainting spells
– Shortness of breath
– Chest pain or pressure
– In certain cases, collapse, and sudden cardiac arrest
Can arrhythmia be fatal?
According to the doctor, arrhythmias usually cause breathing difficulties, fatigue, tiredness, and breathlessness. In more severe cases, it can lead to fatalities due to sudden cardiac arrest.
“Most people are unable to distinguish between a sudden cardiac arrest and a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when the blood vessels that are supplying oxygen to the heart are blocked resulting in chest pain, whereas a sudden cardiac arrest happens when erratic heartbeats stop the heart, leading to sudden death. Those who have experienced heart attacks earlier and have underlying heart failure-related symptoms are more prone to develop fatal arrhythmia.”
Seek medical guidance at the right time
If any patient is unsure of how to manage the situation, it is recommended they get help. Getting the condition medically evaluated is important.