Cardiac arrhythmias

Dr. Ignacio García Bolao, especialista en cardiología de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

learn more about cardiac arrhythmias

An arrhythmia is a heart rhythm disorder. The condition is divided into two phases: diastole, the cardiac muscle relaxes and the cavity fills with blood; and systole, the muscle contracts and expels the blood to the bloodstream, maintaining the blood flow and pressure.

This process occurs in a regular and rhythmic manner governed by an electrical system known as the excitation and conduction system. When this system is altered, arrhythmias and other heart rhythm disorders can occur.

There are two large groups of arrhythmias: slow arrhythmias or bradyarrhythmias and fast arrhythmias or tachyarrhythmias. Premature or extrasystole beats are also considered arrhythmias. In terms of recurrence, arrhythmias can be divided into chronic (permanent) or paroxysmal (on specific occasions).

A correct diagnosis of the patient’s type of arrhythmia is essential to establishing the most appropriate treatment for each case.

Within 48 hours, the Clínica performs a complete patient assessment and offers a personalised treatment plan for each case.

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Arrhythmias are classified as bradyarrhythmias (slow arrhythmias) and tachyarrhythmias (fast arrhythmias). 

Premature or extrasystole beats are also considered arrhythmias.

In terms of recurrence, arrhythmias can be divided into

  • Chronic, i.e., permanent
  • Paroxysmal, i.e., those that occur on specific occasions.

Palpitations and syncope are the main symptoms of arrhythmias.

These and other symptoms (e.g., dizziness, chest pain, loss of consciousness) can occur, or the arrhythmia might go unnoticed until observed during diagnostic tests.

Palpitations produce a subjectively abnormal sensation of the heartbeats, which can be perceived as strong beats, extra beats, irregular beats or fast beats.

Syncope is the loss of consciousness due to reduced blood flow to the brain. Although a large number of cases of syncope are due to causes other than arrhythmia, when an arrhythmia causes syncope, it is usually due to a severe cause.

Arrhythmias are caused by a failure in the electrical system of the cardiac rhythm, known as the excitement and conduction system.

This system can fail for any of the following three reasons:

  1. One of the electrical mechanisms fails due to a lack of electrical impulse generation.
  2. The electrical impulse originates from the wrong site.
  3. The pathways for the electrical conduction are altered. A short circuit occurs in the electrical system.

The new catheterisation technique has the advantage of stopping the need for thrombi-prevention anticoagulants, with all the adverse effects that these drugs entail".

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