A cardiac arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm–the electrical impulses which control the heart’s beat. The abnormality in the heartbeat could mean the heart is beating too fast, too slow, or erratically. This interrupts the effective pumping of blood, which then affects the blood supply to the organs of the body. With inadequate blood supply, the functioning of the organs can suffer or even stop.


Arrhythmias can result in a broad range of symptoms, from the mild to the severe and life-threatening. You might feel a slight fluttering, “heart-skipping” sensation in your chest or neck. More serious symptoms can develop over time, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath


After a review of your medical history and a physical examination, your doctor will may also run further tests specifically for the purpose of detecting arrhythmias:

  • Electrocardiogram(ECG)
  • Holter monitor
  • Event monitor
  • Echocardiogram
  • Implantable loop recorder

In some cases, your doctor may try to trigger your arrhythmia in order to detect it. Further tests include:

  • Stress test
  • Tilt table test
  • Electrophysiological testing and mapping


Slow Heartbeats

Slow heartbeats are often treated with pacemakers if they don’t have a cause that can be corrected by other means.

Fast Heartbeats

Treatments for fast heartbeats may include one of the following:

  • Vagal maneuvers
  • Medications
  • Cardioversion
  • Catheter ablation

It’s possible that surgical options may be explored as well:

  • Maze procedure
  • Coronary bypass surgery