Category Archives: Diseases Of The Heart And Blood Vessels

Wolff Parkinson White syndrome

Wolff Parkinson White syndrome is a heart disorder resulting from the existence of an abnormal and additional electrical pathway between the atria and the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart; a congenital condition often causing tachycardia.

  • Palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness are the common symptoms.
  • Diagnosis can be confirmed by electrocardiography ECG).
  • Certain manual procedures help stop the abnormal heart rhythm by stimulating the vagus nerve that is responsible for slowing down the heart rate.

Wolff Parkinson White syndrome is a congenital disorder of the heart characterized by the presence of an abnormal electrical pathway which transmits the electrical impulses from the atria to the ventricles, in addition to the normal route which is through the atrioventricular node. The disorders resulting from this extra connection are collectively termed atrioventricular reciprocating supraventricular tachycardia, and Wolff Parkinson White syndrome is one of the most common causes.

This extra (accessory) pathway predisposes a person to abnormally fast heart rhythms or arrhythmias. Though present at birth, the Wolff Parkinson White syndromemay remain asymptomatic until much later in life. Usually, teenagers and young adults start developing arrhythmias due to this condition but it may start as early as in the first year or even as late as after sixty years of age.

Symptoms

Wolff Parkinson White syndrome is one of the most common heart conditions precipitating the rapid heart rhythm called paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, which may become fatal when accompanied by atrial fibrillation.

Listlessness, refusal to eat well, shortness of breath and very fast, outwardly visible, pulsing of the chest are the usual symptoms observed, when arrhythmia due to this syndrome develops in infancy. It can cause heart failure in infants.

In young adults and teenagers, a sudden appearance of palpitations, usually during strenuous exercise is the first symptom of arrhythmia due to WPW. It may subside in a few seconds or may continue for several hours, often causing distress and discomfort. Fainting is also not uncommon.

Shortness of breath, chest pain (angina) and fainting are the usual symptoms of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia resulting from WPW, in older people and the symptoms often seem to worsen with age.

Atrial Fibrillation and Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome: If a person with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome develops atrial fibrillation, the extra electrical pathway between the atria and the ventricles conducts the abnormally fast electrical impulses much faster to the ventricles than the atrioventricular node, which normally slows down conduction of impulses. This faster transmission may result in a potentially fatal, extremely rapid ventricular rhythm that may lead to ventricular fibrillation which requires immediate medical intervention.

Diagnosis

Since the electrical activity of the heart gets recorded during electrocardiography (ECG), it is the ideal diagnostic test for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome which results from the abnormally patterned electrical activity of the heart.

Treatment

The manual stimulation of the vagus nerve through various procedures, if done immediately after the onset of the abnormal rhythm, can often stop the paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia resulting from Wolff Parkinson White syndrome. When the manual stimulation fails to stop the arrhythmia, intravenous administration of adenosine or verapamil may be given to stop it. To prevent further occurrence, the drugs may be prescribed for continued use.

Digoxin is the drug of choice for children under10 years, but it is contraindicated in adults due to the increased risk of atrial fibrillation precipitating a potentially fatal ventricular fibrillation, due to the action of the drug. Before children with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome reach puberty, digoxin is discontinued, as it may enhance the electrical conduction between the atria and the ventricles via the abnormal pathway, increasing the chance of ventricular fibrillation.

A minimally invasive procedure called radiofrequency ablation, for the selective destruction of the extra electrical pathway, is a highly successful solution to the problem and it carries only a minimal risk rate of 0.1%. In this procedure, a catheter fitted with electrodes deliver high frequency energy to the targeted area of the heart, destroying only that area. For young people especially, it is a viable alternative to a lifetime of antiarrhythmic medication.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT, PSVT)

Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia is an abnormally fast (around 160 to 220 bpm – beats per minute) but regular heart rhythm, that suddenly appears and disappears, and has an abnormal origin in an area other than that in the ventricles.

  • Shortness of breath, chest pain (angina) and awareness of heartbeat (palpitations) are the usual symptoms.
  • Stimulation of the vagus nerve which has the effect of slowing down the heart rate, help reverse the tachycardia.
  • Drugs may be used to stop it.
  • Incidence of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, most frequent in the younger age group, is not often as dangerous as it is unpleasant. Strenuous activity and exercise may precipitate it.

Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia is the result of the heart getting activated into a rapid heart rhythm, initiated by repeated premature heartbeats of an abnormal nature. Certain abnormalities such as atrioventricular reciprocating supraventricular tachycardia resulting from the presence of an abnormal electrical conduction between the atria and the ventricles or atrioventricular nodal reentrant supraventricular tachycardia resulting from the existence of two different pathways in the atrioventricular node, usually trigger this condition. Occasionally, another abnormality called true paroxysmal atrial tachycardia, due to the generation of abnormally fast or circling impulses in the atria also may precipitate paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Uncomfortable palpitations, felt suddenly and then disappearing as suddenly after only a few minutes or even many hours, is the most commonly occurring symptom. Giddiness, shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain are some of the other common symptoms. Often, no other heart problem is found. Electrocardiogram (ECG) can confirm the diagnosis made from symptoms and physical examination.

Treatment of

The vagus nerve, which has the action of decreasing the heart rate, if stimulated, it can stop paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. Taking advantage of this, there are some easy, non-invasive procedures usually performed by qualified medical practitioner or under the supervision of a doctor to reverse this arrhythmia. However, those who have frequent episodes often learn to do them, themselves. Stimulating the carotid sinus on the carotid artery by rubbing or pressing at a point on the neck right below the joint of the jaw, suddenly dipping the face into ice-cold water or straining and applying pressure as if in a hard bowel movement are some such procedures. Initiated soon after the onset of the arrhythmia, these simple procedures are extremely effective.

If the symptoms are very severe and the manual procedures fail to stop the arrhythmia even after 20 minutes, doctors my give an intravenous injection of verapamil or adenosine which can immediately stop it.

In rare cases, applying electric shock to the heart (cardioversion) may be the only option, if drugs are not effective. Treating the condition is easier than prevention, since most antiarrhythmic drugs are effective. Beta-blockers and drugs such as verapamil, diltiazem and digoxin are commonly used. So are flecainide and propafenone.

A minimally invasive procedure called radiofrequency ablation has become very popular in the treatment of arrhythmia. In this procedure, the area from which paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia is originating, is selectively destroyed by applying high frequency energy, through a catheter fitted with electrodes, that is introduced into the heart through via a vein.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

What Is Atrial Fibrillation And Atrial Flutter (Heart Fluttering)

What Is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter are abnormally rapid contractions of the atria resulting from a series of abnormal electrical impulses stimulating it; and on some impulses reach the ventricles, making them contract abnormally fast as well, reducing their efficiency to pump blood.

  • Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter have their origin in disorders that cause the enlargement of atria.
  • Depending on the rate of contraction of the ventricles, the symptoms can range from fatigue and chest pain (angina) to palpitations.
  • Drugs that slow down the contractions of ventricles are used to treat this condition. Application of electric shock (cardioversion) can normalize the heart rhythm.
  • Incidence of Atrial fibrillation as well as atrial flutter is more frequent in older people.

Atrial fibrillation or flutter is characterized by an abnormally fast contraction of atria, so fast that the walls of the atria seem to be quivering instead of contracting. This affects the proper functioning of the ventricles and impairs the pumping of blood. In atrial fibrillation, the atrial rhythm is not only fast but irregular also. This, in turn, leads to irregular ventricular rhythm. In atrial flutter, the atrial rhythm is still fast but it is regular but the ventricular rhythm may be either regular or irregular. Since the atrioventricular node conducts electrical impulses at a slower rate, all the impulses do not reach the ventricles. Consequently, the ventricles beat at a lower rate than the atria. Even then, the ventricular contractions are still too fast to allow proper filling of the ventricles with blood, impairing the heart’s capacity to pump adequate quantity of blood. This may result in low blood pressure and heart failure.

Causes OF Atrial Fibrillation

Certain diseases that affect the heart, such as coronary heart disease and high blood pressure, can be the cause of the abnormal enlargement of the atria, which in turn predisposes the heart to atrial fibrillation and flutter. Valve defects, precipitated by rheumatic heart disease resulting from an attack of rheumatic fever, congenital defects in the structure and function of the heart, increased heart rate resulting from high levels of thyroid hormones due to hyperthyroidism etc., are other factors favorable to the development of atrial fibrillation and flutter. Excessive alcohol consumption also can be a contributing factor. But sometimes no underlying heart disorder can be identified.

Complications: Since the rapid and incomplete atrial contractions fail to empty all the blood into the ventricles with each beat, blood gets stagnated in the heart, leading to the formation of blood clots. These clots may break free (emboli) and move out of the heart, especially when the arrhythmia is reversed either automatically or through treatment, often leading to blockage in smaller blood vessels. Life threatening situations can result from this, including stroke, if the blockage occurs in an artery in the brain. That is the reason why stroke is found to be the initial symptom of atrial fibrillation and flutter in some cases.

Symptoms and Diagnosis Of A. Fib

Symptoms are usually dependant on the ventricular rate of contraction. A ventricular rate of up to 120 beats/ min. may not precipitate any noticeable symptoms, though rates higher than that may result in discomfort in the chest and severe palpitations.

Both artrial fibrillation and flutter are fast arrhythmias. But the main difference between these two types of arrhythmias is that; in atrial fibrillation, in addition to being fast, the pulse is also irregular, but in atrial flutter, the pulse is fast but regular.

Fatigue, shortness of breath and fainting bouts are symptoms precipitated by the impaired capacity of the heart to pump adequate amount of blood. Older people may experience pain in the chest or develop heart failure. Extremely low blood pressure due to atrial fibrillation or flutter, when combined with other heart disorders, can occasionally result in shock.

Atrial fibrillation or flutter can be diagnosed from symptoms and physical examination but an electrocardiography (ECG) can confirm the condition.

Treatment Of Atrial Fibrillation

Treatment focuses on reducing the rate of contraction of ventricles as well as bringing down abnormally fast heart rhythms to normal level. The disorders of the heart, which are responsible for the development of atrial fibrillation and flutter, are also treated with appropriate drugs. Hyperthyroidism should be treated when present. Surgical intervention to correct valve defects and congenital heart defects also helps. An integral part of the treatment is anticoagulants and blood thinners such as aspirin, in view of the additional risk of blood clot formation in the heart and the potential for stroke.

Slowing the Heart Rate:

  1. The first line of treatment is with drugs that slow down ventricular contraction, enabling the heart to pump more efficiently.
  2. In the treatment of atrial fibrillation or flutter, calcium channel blockers like diltiazem are usually tried first.
  3. Verapamil is a useful drug that can slow down the transfer of electrical impulses from the atria to the ventricles.
  4. Beta-blockers like atenolol and propranolol may also prove to be useful.
  5. Digoxin, one of the oldest drugs for heart failure, is the drug of choice for people who have heart failure too, along with the arrhythmia.

Restoring the Rhythm:

Occasionally, atrial fibrillation or flutter may resolve on its own. But more often, medical intervention is necessary to restore normal heart rhythm. Amiodarone and sotalol are two commonly used antiarrhythmic drugs. Other drugs such as flecainide and propafenone are effective as well. But more effective than any antiarrhythmic drug is the active approach: that of converting the arrhythmia to normal rhythm, by the application of shock directly to the heart (cardiversion).
Arrhythmia should be converted to a normal rhythm as early as possible because, once the atria have become enlarged, as it usually happens in about six months from the onset of the disease, it is very difficult to restore normal rhythm. Even when normal rhythm is restored, recurrence rate becomes very high, in spite of taking antiarrhythmic drugs. Also, with the enlargement of the atria, the heart disorder that causes it too becomes worse.

Destroying the Atrioventricular Node

Destruction of the atrioventricular node, which transmits the abnormally patterned electrical impulse to the ventricles, can stop any abnormal impulse from the atria reaching them, thus preventing the ventricles from contracting. A minimally invasive procedure called radiofrequency ablation, in which electrodes fitted at the tip of catheters are guided into the heart for selective destruction of tissue, is employed to destroy the atrioventricular node. Once this node is destroyed, electric impulses from the atria cannot pass into the ventricles. But the drawback is that, it necessitates the use of an artificial pacemaker to stimulate the ventricles. An alternative is pulmonary vein isolation, in which the atrial tissue around the pulmonary vein is destroyed instead, preserving the atrioventricular node. Since this procedure is riskier, with a lower success rate of only 60 to 80 percent, it is rarely used, except in young patients who are free of any other form of heart disorder.

Ablation with radiofrequency can successfully disrupt the abnormal electrical circuit that is causing the atrial flutter, restoring normal rhythm. This minimally invasive procedure has a very high success rate.

Preventing Blood Clots: The risk of blood clots blocking an artery supplying the brain and causing stroke actually increases significantly on reversing atrial fibrillation or flutter and restoring normal rhythm. The reason is that, when the normal rhythm is restored, the pumping action of the heart improves and the existing blood clots inside the heart break free and start travelling through the blood stream. Because of this, almost all people with atrial fibrillation or flutter are given anticoagulants to prevent clots even after the arrhythmia is brought under control, especially those with additional risk factors such as diabetes, old age and high blood pressure. Some structural disorders such as enlargement of the left atrial chamber and disorders of mitral valve pose extra risk. Unless it is an emergency, doctors usually start patients on anticoagulants three weeks prior to a scheduled cardioversion to correct atrial fibrillation or flutter.

However, doctors have to take into consideration the benefits as well as the potential risks involved in anticoagulant use because anticoagulants are contraindicated in patients with bleeding disorders. People with inadequately treated high blood pressure also should avoid these drugs, since they may result in bleeding complications, excessive blood loss during and after surgery or even hemorrhagic stroke.

Once started, anticoagulants are not discontinued even when proper control of the heart rhythm is achieved. This is because the arrhythmia may come back any time, without the person being aware of it, bringing with it the dangers associated with clot formation.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Atrial Premature Beats (Premature Atrial Contractions)

An atrial premature beat (atrial ectopic beat), is an abnormal extra beat caused due to the stimulation of the atria by a rogue electrical impulse starting from an abnormal site (other than the normal sinoatrial node) prior to a normal heartbeat.

Atrial premature beats are fairly common occurrence in people who are healthy and these extra beats are often quite harmless. People with disorders of the lungs are more prone to this condition, and incidence is more frequent in older people compared to younger people. This condition can be aggravated by mild stimulants like caffeine in beverages and alcohol. Anti- allergic medications often prescribed for cold and allergic rhinitis (hay fever) as well as some drugs taken for asthma also worsen atrial premature beats.

Atrial premature beats are usually asymptomatic but they may be accidentally detected when a person undergoes a physical examination or when an electrocardiography (ECG) is performed. Treatment is possible but generally unnecessary. Antiarrhythmic drugs are used to treat this condition; only if it is very frequent and patient complains of severely distressing palpitations. Otherwise, patients are advised to avoid drugs and other substances that aggravate the symptoms.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Arrhythmia Treatment

When awareness of heart beats (palpitations) can be felt, it may be quite unsettling. If they are found to be harmless, the patient may be reassured and advised to avoid the circumstances that bring about the condition. Arrhythmia can be due to certain drugs a person is taking. In such cases, changing the medication or its dosage may bring relief. Those with arrhythmia are often advised to avoid stimulants like alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. Also, if palpitations are felt only during exercise, such exertions may be avoided.

Arrhythmia Treatment With Drugs

A group of drugs that help suppress arrhythmia are called antiarrhythmic drugs. They are usually given for tachyarrythmia or fast heart rate that causes severe discomfort. Since, arrhythmias can be of various types, and neither a particular drug can treat all types of arrhythmia nor a particular type of arrhythmia can be treated with a specific drug, doctors have to try several drugs and combinations to arrive at suitable medication. In addition to having side effects, paradoxically, antiarrhythmic drugs can have a proarrythmic effect in some cases, where, they can actually cause arrhythmias or worsen them.

Arrhythmia Treatment With Pacemakers

When the natural pacemaker of the heart is not working properly, artificial pacemakers can take over, to preempt any potentially fatal situations. An artificial pacemaker is so small that it can be comfortably embedded in the chest, with tiny wires connecting it to the heart. With the advancement in technology; better electrical circuitry and longer lasting batteries have ensured ten to fifteen years of life for these implants. Techniques have been devised to work around the problem of interference from other commonly encountered electronic devices such as mobile phones and microwave ovens, though it is not entirely fool-proof. High energy fields of MRI machine and diathermy machine (used in physiotherapy to apply heat to the muscles) often interfere with artificial pacemakers.

Pacemakers are mainly used to treat bradyarrhythmias or slow heart rate and they can be life savers. Whenever the heartbeat slows down to a dangerously low rate, they can deliver pulses of electric current directly into the heart, reviving it. Occasionally, pacemakers are also used to suppress tachyarrhythmia

Restoring Normal Rhythm with Electrical DC Shock

An electrical shock delivered into the heart, can stop tachyarrhythmia and normalize the heart rhythm. This is called cardioversion and it is often used to reverse arrhythmias originating in the atria or in the ventricles. The defibrillator machine has to be operated by specially trained professionals such as doctors or emergency care providers. A compact device called implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) can be used for continuous monitoring of the heart rhythm.

Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

is a compact electronic device that can be implanted under the skin by a minimally invasive surgery and be connected to the heart via veins. These life-saving devices are for people at risk of death from arrhythmia. When ICDs that monitor the heart all the time; encounter a fast heart rhythm, they automatically apply a shock to reverse it and restore normal rhythm. The shock applied may be experienced as a kick in the chest. ICDs do the work of pacemakers too, reviving a sluggish heart. Interference by high energy fields of an MRI machine or a diathermy machine is still a problem with these devices; but they are safe from interference with most of the commonly used electronic devices such as cell phones. Since these devices only help correct an abnormal heart rhythm but not prevent the occurrence of arrhythmias, drugs are often prescribed to treat the condition.

Automated external defibrillator (AED) is a new, easy to use device that can be operated by those trained in providing first aid. It can detect arrhythmia and automatically deliver an electric shock if necessary. If placed accessibly in public places like shopping malls, it has the potential to be a life saver on a large scale.

Destroying Abnormal Tissue

Surgical removal of a small area of the heart’s electrical system that is faulty can help control arrhythmia in certain cases. Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure for selective destruction of the faulty tissue. A catheter fitted with electrodes (ablator) is inserted into the heart and high frequency electric current is applied to destroy the ear marked area. This highly successful procedure, which takes only two to four hours to complete and just one or two days of hospitalization, is preferred over an open-heart surgery with its inherent risks.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Diagnosis And Prognosis Of Abnormal Heart Rhythms (Heart arrhythmia)

Arrhythmia can often be diagnosed from the symptoms described by the patients. Doctors try to determine the type of arrhythmia from these observations:

  • whether palpitations are felt by the patient,
  • whether the rhythm is slow, fast, or irregular,
  • whether they last for a long time or resolve in a short period,
  • whether they precipitate symptoms or worsen the symptoms of heart failure,
  • whether they are felt only during exertion or even at rest,
  • whether they appear and disappear suddenly or over a period of time

In spite of the fairly good picture doctors can obtain from these facts, certain tests are required to identify the exact causes and effects.

Since, faulty electrical activity is the main cause of arrhythmias; Electrocardiography (ECG) is an ideal diagnostic test for this condition. The electrical current involved in each heartbeat is graphically recorded during this procedure so that cardiologists can easily observe abnormal patterns in the heartbeats and correlate them to the abnormalities they indicate.

Since the duration of an electrocardiography test is limited, it may not be possible to assess arrhythmias that appear and disappear intermittently and the result of a single ECG may be misleading. To overcome this possibility, a compact, portable, ECG machine called Holter monitor can be used to monitor and record the electrical activity over an extended period of time. Usually, for a 24-hour observation period the device would be worn, as the patients go about performing their day to day activities keeping a record of the time of each activity as well as the symptoms they felt while doing it. The incidence of arrhythmia can be compared with the activity performed at that time, to arrive at conclusions.

To observe arrhythmias that are infrequent, a small device, to record the electrical activity over a longer period of time, is implanted in the chest. This device can keep transmitting the recorded data across the skin, which doctors can use to make the correct diagnosis.

Hospitalization for continuous monitoring and recording of the heart rhythm is often the only option for critically ill people with potentially fatal arrhythmias, as prompt identification of any sudden development of a serious nature can be immediately recognized and attended to.

Exercise stress testing (ECG) and measuring blood pressure while doing the exercise is also a diagnostic procedure often employed. Another useful diagnostic method is electrophysiologic testing with a minimally invasive catheterization procedure which can determine the type of arrhythmia and its treatment options. In this test, electrodes are attached to the tip of the catheters introduced into the heart, to deliver electric impulses to stimulate the heart so that the response of the heart to such stimuli can be studied.

Prognosis

Arrhythmias are often a cause of great anxiety when awareness of heart beats or palpitations are felt. Unless arrhythmia interferes with and impairs the pumping action of the heart; reducing blood flow, it is often considered harmless. However, in some cases, harmless arrhythmias may lead to serious arrhythmias. The origin of the irregularity is an important factor in determining the seriousness of the condition. Arrhythmias starting in the natural pacemaker of the heart (sinoatrial node) are less serious than those having their origin at a lower point in the electrical pathway. Arrhythmias that start in the ventricles of the heart are the most critical.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Leg Pain And Sudden Leg Pain

A person might experience leg pain in case the tissues of the leg do not get the adequate blood supply required and this condition is commonly known as ischemia. Ischemic leg pain usually occurs when the tissues do not receive the appropriate amount of blood supply that is carried to the tissues because and therefore waste products are not carried away by the blood from the tissues and they accumulate in the tissues.

In case the blood flow has been completely blocked due to clotting of blood in a large artery then the person will experience a continuous constant pain which might occur suddenly and often the affected body part such as the legs or the arm turns pale and becomes cold. Often the blood supply in the legs is partially blocked which occurs due to a condition known as atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis the person usually experiences a feeling of tiring pain as well as tightening in the calf muscles during strenuous or normal physical activity. This pain is commonly known as claudication. The condition is often relieved by resting; however, the pain might occur during similar strenuous or normal physical activity.

Leg pain might also occur due to straining of the muscles or due to injuries to the nerves that are located near the spinal cord. Leg pain also occurs due to formation of blood clots inside the veins, a condition which is commonly known as venous thrombosis. Similarly leg pain can also occur due to infections of the muscle or skin. In case the cause of leg pain has been determined as a disorder of the blood vessels then the doctor often prescribes Doppler ultrasonography to be performed on the patient to evaluate the supply of blood to the affected area.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Leg Edema Or Leg Swelling

Swelling in different parts of the body often occurs because of the accumulation of body fluids in the tissues. Accumulation of body fluids in tissues (called edema) will result in swelling of that body part. Leg swelling occurs when the blood accumulates in the veins of the legs which increases the blood pressure and often forces fluid out of the veins directly into the tissues. Accumulation of blood might also occur in case the heart cannot pump out the blood supply that it receives from the other parts of the body as seen in case of heart failure. Accumulation of blood similarly might also occur in case the deep veins located in the legs are blocked which happens in the case of deep vein thrombosis.

Hence many doctors diagnose the cause of swelling in the ankles, legs and feet as venous problems like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or cardiac failure. However in most cases leg swelling is caused by normal situations such as sitting or standing for long periods of time in one position, changes in the veins of the leg as the person ages and can also be commonly observed in the legs of women during pregnancy. Swelling otherwise might occur due to disorders in the kidney or liver.

In case a body part receives inadequate blood supply that body part often feels numb. The inadequate blood supply can be observed in different body parts in patients suffering from anemia. The inadequate blood supply is also observed if the veins in the human body do not drain in the proper manner and the skin of the affected place begins to appear purplish, bluish or pale in color.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

What Is A Heart Arrhythmia

What Is A Heart Arrhythmia? Heart arrhythmia is defined as an abnormally patterned series of heart beats which tend to be either very slow (bradyarrhythmia) or too fast (tachyarrhythmia) and produced by electrical impulses travelling in the heart through a faulty electrical circuitry.

  • Heart Arrhythmia is usually caused by underlying heart disorders.
  • Palpitations associated with arrhythmias are occasionally felt by some people, but often, weakness and fainting are the only symptoms felt.
  • Electrocardiography (ECG) can diagnose arrhythmia
  • Treatment focuses on restoring the normal rhythm of the heart and preventing recurrence.

Heart is a strong, muscular pump that works round the clock and non-stop throughout the entire lifespan of a person. This four- chambered organ pumps out blood to the entire body, by a series of contractions with a definite pattern and a regular rhythm.

Contraction of the heart is an electrically controlled process with a series of well orchestrated events, starting with an electric pulse originating in the upper right chamber of the heart, at a point called the sinoatrial node. Heart rate is determined by the frequency at which this electric pulse is discharged, which in turn is controlled by specific hormones and the impulses from nerves.

Autonomic nervous system, consisting of a sympathetic division and a parasympathetic division, automatically regulates the heart rate. While the sympathetic system acts through a group of nerves called sympathetic plexus to increase the heart rate, the parasympathetic division acting through the vagus nerve has the opposite action; that of decreasing heart rate.

The rate at which the heart beats can be affected by hormones delivered into the bloodstream by the sympathetic nervous system. These hormones include the Thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland, epinephrine (adrenaline) produced by the adrenal gland, and norepinephrine (noradrenaline). All these hormones cause the heart to beat faster.

The usual heart rate for an adult when idle varies between 60 bpm to 100 bpm (beats per minute).The heart rate is sometimes lower in healthy, younger adults.

Exercise and other strenuous physical activity cause the number of beats per minute to increase. Emotions which activate the sympathetic nervous system, such as anger, love or pain also increase the heart rate by secreting sympathetic hormones like adrenaline.

When the heart rate is considerably low it is called bradycardia and when it is high, it is called tachycardia. Both are abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias. When the beat is irregular or when the electric impulse follows a faulty circuit across the heart; then again, they are arrhythmias.

Normal Electrical Pathway

The sinoatrial node in the right atrium, which can be called the pacemaker of the heart, is the starting point of the electrical activity. The electrical impulse that starts in the sinoatrial node travels across the right atrium and then the left atrium, making them contract, pushing the blood into the ventricles. When the electrical impulse is picked up by the atrioventricular node, it is delayed there, to allow time for the complete contraction of the atria and the maximum filling up of the ventricles.

From the atrioventricular node, after a brief delay, the current passes into the Bundle of His. This bundle of fibers branches out into left and right bundles and pass into respective ventricles and spread out, causing the ventricles to contract, and pump blood out of the heart.

Causes of heart arrhythmia

Disorders of the heart such as coronary artery disease, valve defects and heart failure are the major causes of heart arrhythmias, especially coronary artery disease that affects the blood supply to the muscular walls of the heart. Sometimes arrhythmia has its roots in certain congenital abnormality in the anatomy of the heart. Certain medications, including several of those used in the treatment of heart disorders, are also known to cause arrhythmias. Excessive levels of thyroid hormone may increase heart rate resulting in tachyarrhythmia while low levels of the same hormone may result in bradyarrhythmia. An ageing heart is also more prone to arrhythmias due to possible deterioration in the electrical transmission system of the heart.

Symptoms of heart arrhythmia

Awareness of heartbeats or the feeling of the heart thumbing inside the chest is called palpitations. Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmias), especially an abnormally fast heart beat (tachyarrhythmia) is the usual reason for this feeling of awareness; but it can vary from person to person. Everybody feels a racing heart in very stressful situations, but a few people feel their normal heartbeats too, as do most people when they are lying on the left side (or right side, if they have situs inversus or reversed body symmetry).

Arrhythmia can often be quite harmless even when their symptoms are severe. On the other hand, extremely dangerous arrhythmias can be asymptomatic too. Seriousness of an arrhythmia cannot be gauged by the symptoms exhibited. In other words, the heart disorders that cause the arrhythmia are of greater importance than the symptoms arrhythmia precipitates, however severe they are.

Arrhythmias interfering with the pumping action of the heart produce various symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, a dizzy and light-headed feeling or even fainting. Fainting (syncope) is due to lowering of blood pressure resulting from the inability of the heart to pump out adequate quantity of blood. Such arrhythmia, if prolonged, can be fatal. Arrhythmias can worsen the symptoms of the heart disorder that is causing it, such as shortness of breath and chest pain and such situations call for immediate attention.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Broken Heart Syndrome (Stress Cardiomyopathy – takotsubo syndrome)

 

The above Video Explains this Rare But interesting Broken Heart Syndrome

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
You might also likeclose