Cardiologist & Interventional Cardiologist located in Washington, DC & Silver Spring, MD
If you have an irregular heartbeat, it doesn't necessarily indicate a serious heart condition. However, in some cases, it can be a sign of something more worrying, so if you have an irregular heartbeat, contact board-certified cardiologist Luc Oke, MD, and his team at Heart Consultants. They use state-of-the-art technology to diagnose the cause of your irregular heartbeat and provide advanced treatment options at their offices in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Washington, DC. Call the office closest to you today to find out more or use the online form to book an appointment.
Irregular Heartbeat Q & A
What is an irregular heartbeat?
Having an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, means the rhythm of your heart doesn't match the regular pattern of a healthy heart, which beats 60-100 times each minute at rest. If your heart is faster, slower, or has a varying rhythm, it's clinically irregular.
If your heart is beating irregularly, Dr. Oke can determine what's causing the problem and treat any conditions effectively.
What types of irregular heartbeats are there?
An irregular heartbeat can take several forms, including:
Tachycardia is when your heart is beating too quickly, running at over 100 beats per minute (BPM) when you're resting. Supraventricular tachycardia affects the upper chambers of your heart, while ventricular tachycardia affects the lower chambers.
Tachycardia shouldn't be confused with sinus tachycardia, which is the natural and normal speeding up of your heart rate when you're sick or excited.
Bradycardia is a slow heartbeat of less than 60 BPM. This form of irregular heartbeat is often due to a disruption of the electrical signals traveling between your heart's ventricles and atria.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a type of disorganized heart rhythm originating in your heart's upper chambers. It occurs when unstable electrical impulses begin to misfire, resulting in a heart rate of up to 200 BPM and an irregular rhythm.
The atrium in your heart is one of the two upper chambers. Atrial flutters typically affect the right atrium, occurring when an electrical impulse crosses over the atrium and speeds up your heart rate.
Ventricular fibrillation (VF) occurs if an irregular heartbeat stops the ventricles in your heart from pumping blood to the rest of your body. It's a serious, potentially life-threatening irregularity that can stop your heart beating and cause cardiac arrest.
What causes an irregular heartbeat?
Common causes of an irregular heartbeat include:
- High blood pressure
- Coronary heart disease
- Low electrolyte levels
- Heart abnormalities
- Illness or injury affecting the heart muscle
- Having heart surgery
To determine what's causing your irregular heartbeat, Dr. Oke runs tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), which records your heart's electrical activity. Sometimes, an ECG doesn't identify the cause of your irregular heartbeat, particularly if the problem comes and goes.
In this case, you might need to undergo further tests, such as an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) or exercise stress testing. You might also have to wear a Holter monitor to record your heart function over a longer period.
If you're experiencing any form of irregular heartbeat, it's important to have an assessment and tests to identify the cause. To arrange your consultation, call Heart Consultants today or book an appointment online.