Arrhythmias can cause a broad range of symptoms, and the specific symptoms experienced can vary widely depending on the type of arrhythmia and its severity. Some arrhythmias may be completely asymptomatic and discovered incidentally during a routine examination or unrelated medical testing. Here are the common symptoms of arrhythmias and how they might vary between different types:

Common Symptoms Across All Arrhythmias:

  • Palpitations: A feeling of skipped heartbeats, fluttering, or a sensation that the heart is beating too hard or too fast.
  • Dizziness or Light-headedness: Reduced cardiac output during arrhythmias can lead to decreased blood flow to the brain.
  • Shortness of Breath: Feeling breathless, especially during activity or when lying flat, due to the heart’s inability to pump blood effectively.
  • Chest Pain or Discomfort: Can occur, particularly if the arrhythmia is associated with an underlying heart condition like coronary artery disease.
  • Fatigue: Feeling unusually tired, as the heart is not pumping efficiently.
  • Syncope (Fainting): Occurs when the brain’s blood supply is significantly reduced, leading to a loss of consciousness.

Symptoms by Arrhythmia Type:

  • Atrial Fibrillation (AFib): Often causes rapid, irregular heartbeats, and palpitations. People might also experience fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
  • Atrial Flutter: Similar to AFib but the palpitations may feel more organized and less chaotic than the completely irregular heartbeat of AFib.
  • Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT): Rapid, regular heartbeats that can start and stop suddenly. Symptoms often include palpitations, pounding in the neck, anxiety, and sweating.
  • Ventricular Tachycardia: Can lead to severe symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, severe palpitations, and in some cases, cardiac arrest.
  • Ventricular Fibrillation (VFib): An emergency situation where the heart quivers instead of pumping due to disorganized electrical signals. It results in a sudden collapse and loss of consciousness and is immediately life-threatening.
  • Bradycardia: When the heart rate is too slow, resulting in fatigue, dizziness, and fainting spells.

Asymptomatic Arrhythmias:

  • Some arrhythmias, especially those that are very slow or very brief, may not cause any symptoms at all. These are often detected during physical exams or through ECGs conducted for other reasons.

The variation in symptoms depends on how much the arrhythmia disrupts the normal flow of blood through the heart and to the rest of the body. It’s important for anyone experiencing these symptoms regularly or severely to seek medical evaluation, as effective diagnosis and treatment can alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of more serious complications.

Categorized in:

Arrhythmias, Cardiovascular,

Last Update: June 2, 2024