Symptoms of Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)
Rhythm disturbances occur frequently enough to go unnoticed by most people. They can be fleeting and unpredictable. Under normal conditions, the heart corrects its misstep and continues beating as it should. In some people, arrhythmias can last longer, affecting the heart's ability to function properly. Longer lasting issues may be the result of conduction problems or ischemia, a reduction in blood supply to the heart.
Symptoms of Conduction ProblemsIt is possible for arrhythmias to go undetected until symptoms and complications appear. Loss of heart function may become noticeable when you experience symptoms. This may indicate the heart is unable to meet the body's demands.Conduction problems may cause:
- Sensation of fluttering or skipped, extra, or hard heartbeats—palpitations
- Rapid heartbeat— tachycardia
- Slow heartbeat— bradycardia
- Fainting— syncope
- Muscle weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Mild cognitive impairment
Symptoms of IschemiaIschemia can affect any organ or tissue in the body, including the heart muscle. The heart muscle needs a sufficient supply of blood and oxygen to work properly. When the heart muscle does not get enough blood, you may notice symptoms.Ischemia may cause:
- Chest pain— angina , which may be a symptom of coronary artery disease
- Shortness of breath
Mayou R, Sprigings D, et al. Characteristics of patients presenting to a cardiac clinic with palpitation. QJM. 2003;96:115.
Symptoms, diagnosis & monitoring of arrhythmia. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/SymptomsDiagnosisMonitoringofArrhythmia/Symptoms-Diagnosis-Monitoring-of-Arrhythmia%5FUCM%5F002025%5FArticle.jsp. Updated October 25, 2012. Accessed March 19, 2014.
What are the signs and symptoms of an arrhythmia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/signs.html. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed March 19, 2014.
Zimetbaum P, Josephson ME. Evaluation of patients with palpitations. N Engl J Med. 1998;338:1369.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Review Date: 12/2014
- Update Date: 12/20/2014