The rapid and strong pulsation of the heart – throbbing or palpitation – is known in the medical field as arrhythmia. This condition of skipped heartbeats often occurs when something out of the usual or normal takes place in the contracting chambers of the heart. Arrhythmia can also occur when the electrical pulse which triggers heartbeats fails to operate normally.
The sound heart of a person at rest is known to beat at the rate of from sixty to ninety times per minute. But when a person is under undue stress or some pain, feeling angry, or going through an intense physical activity, the heart’s pulsation can occur at a much faster pace of about a hundred times, or even more, per minute.
For sure, not a few people experience having palpitations at certain times of their day-to-day life. Most of these occurrences of skipped or extra heartbeats (which may be the natural results of an active lifestyle) are innocuous. For example, the relatively rapid physiological or pathological heart action called tachycardia is, for the greatest part, not health-threatening.
Still, some cases of arrhythmia can’t simply be dismissed as being harmless. One particular condition, which involves very rapid, irregular contractions of the heart’s muscle fibers – called atrial fibrillation – can cause the heart to pump as much as two hundred times per minute. At this rather terrifying rate, one can experience dizziness and may eventually lose consciousness. Worse, a stroke can occur.
This condition is often associated with high blood pressure and is common in people over the age of sixty. Arrhythmias in survivors of heart attack are what concern doctors the most. A brief occurrence of tachycardia may actually be followed by a longer one. This could result to some serious complications and may even be fatal.
Many different factors can trigger arrhythmia: stress, smoking, alcohol intake, and excess eating. Certain foods can act as stimuli to arrhythmia: processed meats, smoked fish, red wine, and cheese. Even a few of the over-the-counter drugs can also cause skipped heartbeats: diet pills, decongestants, and drugs used to maintain normal blood pressure.
There are various medications and medical procedures to treat serious arrhythmias. But since most cases of arrhythmias are not life-threatening, people who experience skipped pulsation should consider seeing a doctor only under certain circumstances, as when your heart’s unusual rapid beating lasts for several minutes or even hours, or when you experience a whirling sensation in your head and feel like losing consciousness.
In determining the possible occurrence of serious arrhythmia, doctors make use of an electrocardiogram. This medical device, which records the electrical activity of the heart with the use of painless electrodes, assists doctors in the timely detection of arrhythmia, thus enabling them to apply the necessary treatment before the condition gets worse.