A reader asks:
"Are heart arrhythmia and high blood pressure related?"
That’s a good question. Rhythm refers to the cadence of your heartbeat, whether it’s regular, irregular, fast, slow, normal or abnormal. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow or with an irregular rhythm. Some degree of irregularity or arrhythmia of your heartbeat is expected and not dangerous.When is heart arrhythmia dangerous?
Certain arrhythmias, especially those associated with underlying heart disease, may be dangerous. Long-standing, uncontrolled or severe high blood pressure may cause underlying heart disease, such as congestive heart failure or coronary artery blockage, that may result in significant or even life threatening arrhythmias. Simple or controlled hypertension usually causes no signifi cant risk. Far and away, most cardiac rhythm irregularities are not dangerous, but simply noticeable irregular heart beats that have no long-term consequence.What are other causes?
Heart disease is a common cause of serious arrhythmias, but stress, smoking, heavy alcohol use and some medication can lead to it as well. The most common cause of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation, which can lead to stroke.
Signs and symptoms of an arrhythmia include:
- Palpitations (an uneasy feeling that your heart is skipping beats or beating too hard)
- A fast or racing heartbeat, a slow heartbeat or an irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, sweating and fainting
The first test to diagnose an arrhythmia is usually an EKG. An arrhythmia can be treated with medicine or medical procedures, and most can be treated successfully. Most people with arrhythmias are able to live normal lives. Some people require medication, while some don’t.Heart Check
Free blood pressure, EKG rhythm strips and other health screenings will be offered at Heart Check from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Feb. 25, in the atrium of Doctors Office Building 2 at Western Baptist Hospital. No advance registration or fasting is required. Phone (270) 575-2918 for more information.
Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline
If you have questions about heart attack or stroke symptoms, you can talk to a Western Baptist nurse free 24 hours a day on the Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline: 1-800-575-1911.
Send your questions!
Do you have a cardiac question tugging at your heart? Send it to email@example.com or mail it to HeartBeat, 2501 Kentucky Ave., Paducah, KY 42003. If we use it in a future HeartBeat column, you will receive a Western Baptist Hospital door prize.