Symptoms of Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)

Some arrhythmias may occur without any symptoms. Others may cause noticeable symptoms, such as:

  • Fainting
  • Dizziness, sensation of lightheadedness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Sensation of your heart fluttering (palpitations)
  • Sensation of a missed or extra heart beat

Fainting, dizziness, lightheadedness, weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath all mean that your brain or your muscles are not getting enough blood because your heart isn't pumping effectively.

Chest pain means that the heart itself is not getting enough blood. This is called angina .

Some people report an unusual feeling of their “heart beating,” especially if it is beating abnormally. With none of the other symptoms, this may be harmless or it may be a warning of a potential problem.

References:

Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. McGraw-Hill; 1998.

Kroenke K, Arrington ME, Mangelsdorff AD. The prevalence of symptoms in medical outpatients and the adequacy of therapy. Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:1685.

Mayou R, Sprigings D, Birkhead J, Price J. Characteristics of patients presenting to a cardiac clinic with palpitation. QJM. 2003;96:115.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/ .

Zimetbaum P, Josephson ME. Evaluation of patients with palpitations. N Engl J Med. 1998;338:1369.



Last reviewed June 2008 by Michael J. Fucci, DO

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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