CALL MARK: 07976 052006


Back to portfolio

Arrhythmia - my heart goes boom

I’m pleased to say my heart has never actually given me cause for concern, and there is very little history of heart trouble in my family, but I know a lot of people around me who are not so lucky.

The first piece of advice I’d like to give on the subject of the heart is this: if you feel you have a problem with yours, consult a doctor as soon as possible. There are things we can all do to reduce our chances of getting heart problems, but if you already have a condition you need to take it seriously. From what I’ve seen, things can become worse extremely quickly.

In many cases, a perceived abnormality in the heart’s normal functioning can turn out not to be a major problem. In others it can be very dangerous. You really need a doctor to tell you which category applies to you.

It’s quite common for people to experience an arrhythmia. This is a variation in the normal heartbeat rhythm. An arrhythmia in which the heart beats faster than normal is called tachycardia.

Without going too deeply into the science of it, our heart is a muscular pump which beats at a particular rhythm to send the blood around our body at the most effective rate. The rhythm of the heart is controlled by electrical pulses but sometimes the system can suffer from a ‘short circuit’ that speeds it up, slows it down or makes it irregular.

The heart is a very important organ so when it malfunctions there can be effects not just on the heart itself but on other organs and on the body’s health in general. At one extreme, tachycardia can lead to cardiac arrest or a stroke. At the other, it may go away with little or no need for treatment.

Symptoms of tachycardia include a sensation of your heart or pulse beating more rapidly. You may also have chest pain, feel tired, dizzy or light-headed, and be short of breath. Paleness and sweating are further possible symptoms. These symptoms may come and go quickly or you may feel them constantly.

If tachycardia or some other arrhythmia is diagnosed, the treatment will depend on how serious your condition is. In some cases no treatment is necessary. In others, options range from a little medication to a pacemaker or surgery.

A number of factors can cause, or contribute to, tachycardia. They include heart defects that have been present from birth, as well as heart disease developed later in life. In general, lifestyle improvements that reduce risks of heart disease should help with tachycardia too.

Tachycardia can be brought on by smoking, drinking too much alcohol or too much coffee, taking amphetamines or other stimulants, or by stress and anxiety. All of these things are well known to be bad for the heart anyway.

Recreational drugs should be avoided. You might also wish to do without cough and cold medication and appetite suppressants. However, some of the medicines your doctor may be prescribing for other conditions may also affect your heart. In this case you will certainly need a doctor’s advice, to balance the benefits of those treatments against your heart’s needs.

As well as avoiding all of the above factors, you will help your situation if you take measures to reduce your blood pressure, eat a healthy diet with less cholesterol, lose weight (if you need to) and take more exercise.

In fact, all of those changes are so healthy that we should all consider them even if our hearts seem to be in perfect shape.