Abnormal Heart Rates

Abnormal heart rates can be very benign and associated with something like anxiety, or they can be very serious and a precursor of a more serious problem.

Heart rate is not to be confused with heart palpitations. Your heart rate is the rate of which your heart beats in a certain timeframe, like a minute (bpm). While a palpitation can be the result of an abnormality, the word “palpitation” simply means that you’re consciously aware of the heartbeat.

Overall, palpitations arise from three main causes:

  • Hyperdynamic Circulation
    • Thyrotoxicosis
    • Hypercapnia
    • Anemia
    • Pregnancy
    • Pyrexia
    • Valvular Incompetence
  • Sympathetic Overdrive
    • Hypoglycemia
    • Hypoxia
    • Anxiety
    • Heart Failure
    • Mitral Valve Prolapse
    • Levocetirizine Antihistamines
  • Cardiac Dysrhythmias
    • Junctional Escape Beat
    • Premature Ventricular Contraction
    • Atrial Fibrillation
    • Premature Atrial Contraction
    • Supraventricular and Ventricular Tachycardia
    • Heart Block
    • Ventricular Fibrillation

Four common heart rate abnormalities explained in further detail:

  1. Tachycardia: If your heart rate is over 100 beats per minute, then you have tachycardia. Anything over 80 can technically fall into this category, but once it crosses over 100 it can become very problematic.
  2. Bradycardia: Bradycardia is when the heart beats less than 60 beats per minute. However, this is not problematic unless the heart is beating less than 50 beats per minute, but some trained athletes used to physical exertion can have a resting heart rate of 50 BPM or even lower and still be considered healthy.
  3. Arrhythmia: Felt as palpatations, arrhythmias are abnormalities of the heartbeat and rhythm that can be described as either fast or slow. Most cases are very minor and only cause minimal symptoms, while others can lead to dizziness or fainting.
  4. Ventricular Assist Device (patients with a pacemaker) :If you have a device assisting your heartbeat, then you may think that you’re experiencing “abnormal” heart function. This can frighten people, especially if someone else is checking the pulse of a patient with a pacemaker, but there will be no pulse in patients with a device installed, as VADs provide continuous flow.
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