We, at a certain point in our lives, experienced feeling out of breath, faint or extreme heart flutterings. These may be due to some factors such as coming across something scary, after a strenuous workout and other events that made our hearts skip a beat. Some of these are plain normal and not at all worth worrying about.
But what if one day, we consciously sense that something is not right with the beating of our hearts? And it’s not after watching a sappy love story – it’s like the heartbeat is out of sync. What if, as your friend would say, a form of Arrhythmia? How will you know that you are not at risk of having a cardiovascular problem?
Arrhythmia, What is it?
There are actually several reasons why we suddenly feel breathless, about to faint or even a sudden painful pain on our chest. At times it can be due to some serious underlying reasons, at times may be due to some glitch in the heartbeat.
Arrhythmia is a heart rhythm issue. This occurs when either your heartbeat is too slow or too fast for the reason that the electrical impulses are not in sync properly. It can be quite unnerving at times as the palpitations or fluttering may seem a bit strange. It is actually not threatening but, if the symptoms following the irregularity are off, plus the heart had or has some prior issues, it could even be life-threatening.
There are two types of Arrhythmia, one is Sinus arrhythmia.
Sinus Arrhythmia, Should You be Worried?
The heartbeat or the timing per impulse is measured per PP interval. Differences per individual occur, but the intervals are generally minimal. For those with Sinus Arrhythmia, the interval is greater than 0.16.
Sinus Arrhythmia basically says that the rhythm of the heart is not beating in a regular manner. It could either be too slow or too fast. When it is slow, doctors call it Sinus Bradycardia, too fast then its Sinus Tachycardia the heart beats faster. For sinus bradycardia, the beat is slower than 60 beats per minute, for the second, its faster with 100 beats 60 seconds.
Working out however at times normalizes the rhythm of the heart.
There are two types of Sinus Arrhythmia – Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia and Non-Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia. The former often occurs with children and considered benign while the latter is associated with older adults. The second may put the person at risk as it is also connected to an existing heart ailment.
For the respiratory sinus arrhythmia, the heart rate speeds up when the person inhales, then slows down once the individual exhales. This condition does not put the child at risk and often, this condition tempers or disappears as the child matures. People with sleep apnea, however, have this respiratory sinus arrhythmia.
Why Does Sinus Arrhythmia Occur?
For children who later outgrow the irregularity, it is said that Sinus Arrhythmia is related to reflexes caused by vascular and pulmonary systems. But again, the study remains open for debate.
For those who are more mature, Sinus Arrhythmia can be due to a heart ailment or weakness. It may be due to damage to the sinus node that hinders the electrical impulses from leaving the node.
The upper chamber of the right part of the heart contains the sinus node – the pacemaker in charge of the rhythm of the heartbeat.
When it comes to symptoms, Sinus Arrhythmia does not emit one. A person can go on living without showing or feeling any manifestations. It is only through proper diagnosis when a person can finally know that he or she has sinus arrhythmia.
In general, though, arrhythmia (either sinus bradycardia or sinus tachycardia) have noticeable signs. These could be:
- Feeling faint
- Dizziness (for sinus bradycardia)
- Profuse perspiration
- Pain in the chest
- Fast heartbeat (sinus tachycardia)
- Slow heartbeat (sinus bradycardia)
- Out of breath
Getting the Right Diagnosis
Again, sinus arrhythmia is not dangerous per se, only when it is because of heart damage or heart ailment which led to an irregular heartbeat.
However, getting a diagnosis not only helps to appease the mind but also to verify if the fluttering in your heart or palpitations is causing you sleepless nights and bouts of paranoia. Normally, the doctor would require one to get an ECG or EKG. Called Electrocardiogram in the long-form, this medical machine captures the electrical recording of the rhythm. It also measures the rate and intervals.
To capture, copper wires and clamps are attached to the patient’s chest, fingers, and toes.
There are other machines that are used to detect any abnormalities in the heart, but the ECG is the most common for determining the type of Sinus Arrhythmia.
While Sinus Arrhythmia again is not always a looming danger, there are causes as to why it occurs. These include:
- Drinking too much coffee
- Heavy alcohol drinking
- Smoking excessively
- Sleep apnea
- Substance abuse
- Too much stress
- Effects of some medications, supplements, antihistamines and cold medicines
- Coronary heart disease
- Damage to the heart
- A heart attack that is about to happen
- Structural changes of the heart.
The last four could be fatal, thus getting a doctor’s proper diagnosis and advise is highly recommended.
Taking Maximum Care of Your Heart is Key
Sinus arrhythmia is not alarming when there are no pre-existing conditions. However, ensuring that one’s heart is healthy and strong should always be prioritized not only to lessen the threat of sinus arrhythmia from getting seriously prioritized also, to keep other heart ailments at bay. Some of these tips can be easily incorporated such as:
- Limiting or avoiding coffee
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol
- Avoiding stressful situations or if not possible, practicing meditation so as to help cope with stress peacefully.
- Consuming healthy food, putting more vegetables, whole lean meat, fish, whole grains and fruits while avoiding foods packed with trans fat, sugar, and oils
- Regular exercise
- Maintaining good weight
- Limiting the use of synthetic medications for cold and cough and anti-allergy medicines that can affect the heartbeat.