The rate and rhythm of the heart is controlled by electrical signals that cause the heart to contract, or squeeze, in a coordinated manner and continuously circulate blood through the lungs and out to the rest of the body to deliver vital oxygen. Irregular heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, occur when the heart’s electrical signals are abnormal—making it beat too fast, too slow, or in an uncoordinated manner. That irregular heart rhythm can interfere with the heart’s ability to pump effectively.
There are a number of different types of arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation (AFib), atrial flutter, ventricular tachycardia, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), and more. Some types of arrhythmia resolve on their own, while others need treatment. Some types are harmless, while others can be dangerous or even fatal.
A number of conditions can cause arrhythmias like blocked arteries and other heart problems, high blood pressure, thyroid problems, diabetes, sleep apnea, and COVID-19. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, drug abuse, stress or anxiety, certain medications and supplements, congenital abnormalities, and genetics can also cause arrhythmias.
Arrhythmias don’t always cause symptoms, but they can cause a fluttering in the chest, an irregular heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, fatigue, lightheadedness or dizziness, sweating, and fainting or near fainting. Symptoms don’t mean the problem is serious, but they can be scary and impact day-to-day activities. An accurate diagnosis is a critical step in living with, treating, and potentially curing your arrhythmia. Some arrhythmias can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication, while others will need procedures or even surgery.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia that impacts as many as 6 million Americans and raises the risk of stroke by 500%.
Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT)
Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) is an arrhythmia that is usually harmless but can cause frequent and/or debilitating symptoms.