Abnormal Rhythm


​Abnormal Heart Rhythm

A healthy heart beats a steady 60 to 100 times each minute. Sometimes an abnormal heart rhythm develops – characterized by an irregular heartbeat at a faster or slower pace.


Atrial fibrilliation -- commonly called AFib -- is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm. AFib varies in how long the episodes last and how frequently they take place. Common symptoms of AFib include:

  • Fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Heart palpitations -- a sensation that your heart is missing a beat or beating too fast or too hard



Your physician will discuss your symptoms, medical history and risk factors and will perform a physical exam.

The most reliable test for detecting AFib is an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Other diagnostic tests that may help your doctor diagnosis an abnormal heart rhythm include:

  • Exercise stress tests

  • Cardiac catheterization

  • An electrophysiology study (EPS) 

  • A head-up tilt-table test

Lifestyle modification & treatment

Some people with arrhythmias require no treatment. Your physician may recommend  these and other improvements
to your lifestyle habits to reduce your risk for heart disease:

  • Smoking cessation: if you smoke, quit.

  • Avoid foods high in saturated and trans-fats and adopt a low-fat, low-salt diet.

  • Avoid caffeine

  • Monitor your blood sugar if you have diabetes.

  • Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight. Talk
    to your doctor before you start an exercise program.

  • Manage your stress

Treatments may include:

  • Medication

  • Pacemaker

  • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

  • Cardiac ablation

  • Surgery

Long-term or frequent heart arrhythmias should not be ignored. Regular checkups by your primary care physician give you the best chance of effectively managing the disorder.

Back to top