Signs and Symptoms of an Arrhythmia
Some arrhythmias are “silent,” causing no symptoms, while others cause bothersome symptoms that may be brief, long-lasting, or sudden and intense. Symptoms associated with arrhythmia may include:
- palpitations, or skipping a beat
- fluttering feeling in chest or neck
- racing heart sensation
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- fainting or almost fainting
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- suddenly rapid, chaotic heartbeat
Syncope, or fainting (or almost fainting), or feeling dizzy or lightheaded, can be caused by serious heart rhythm disorders and should be evaluated thoroughly.
Types of Arrhythmias
Supraventricular arrhythmias (begin in the atria, the upper chambers of the heart):
- Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) - the most common arrhythmia, affecting about 5 million people in the United States. The heartbeat is irregular and fast, an AFib can lead to other rhythm disturbances.
- Atrial Flutter - Like AFib, atrial flutter is characterized by a rapid heartbeat. Unlike AFib, which is caused by many disorganized electrical signals, atrial flutter is caused by a single electrical wave circulating very quickly.
- Sick Sinus Syndrome (SSS) - group of symptoms indicating the heart’s natural electrical “trigger” – the sinoatrial node, where the electrical signal begins – is not working properly. The heartbeat can switch back and forth between too slow and too fast.
- Sinus tachycardia - normal harmless elevation in heart rate due to excitement, exercise or fever. It rarely requires treatment.