Like any other muscle in our body, the heart needs to be taken care of. Before exercise we stretch and lossen up our muscles to prevent injury to them and although the precuationary measures we take for our heart are different, they are still important. To lower one’s risk of heart disease one should make sure to have low cholesterol and blood pressure, moderate amounts of physical activity, and one should refrain from smoking tobacco or drinking excessively.
The heart muscle is made up of four chambers. AT the bottom are two ventricles, and at the top are two atrials. A heart beat occurs when the heart contracts do to the natural pacemaker, the sinoatrial, that is found in our heart. A glitch in this wiring cuases an irregular heart beat and this is what we term an arrythmia.
An arrythmia cuases the heart to pump blood in a less effective manner and refers to any irregularity from the hearts normal sequence. Although they can be serious, arrythmias are not always a reason to worry, and often healthy individuals can feel an irregularity in their heartbeat due to certain medications, too much caffiene or exercise.
Most heart rhythm disturbances are transitory and a doctor does not need to be seen about them. For example, exercise can speed up your heart rate as can too much caffeine and certain medications. Your heart rate may also speed up during times of fear or excitement. An arrhythmia becomes dangerous when it is frequent or chronic. The seriousness of an arrythmia depends not just on symptoms, like faintness or dizziness, but have more to do with the presence of important abnormal structural conditions of the heart and/or heart disease.
Arrythmia can occur in either the ventricle or atrial chambers. Atrial fibrilation is when beats rapidly causing symptoms like chest discomfort, shortness of breath, palpitations, rapid heart beat,and dizziness. The other type of arrythmia is Ventricular fibrillation and this type usually occurs in people who have a damaged heart, such as those who have had a heart attack. Because ventricular fibrillation is so rapid and is occurring in a damaged heart, the heart may not function properly or efficiently and this arrhythmia can be fatal or at least very serious.
To help with arrythmia preventative medication can be taken such as beta blockers or drugs that reduce blood clots. Pacemakers may also be used and these monitor and regulate heart beat. Before resorting to medication however, preventative lifestyle changes can also be made such as exercise, limited intake of alcohol, and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Since it is difficult for the average person to know if their arrhythmia is dangerous cardiology specialists called electrophysiologists use the most advanced technology to detect, diagnose and treat arrhythmias. Arrhythmias that cannot be treated and controlled by medication, or by pacemakers can often be completely cured through a minimally invasive procedure called cardiac ablation.
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