by Polsdorfer R

Causes of Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)

Arrhythmias occur when there is a disruption in how the electrical signal develops or moves throughout the heart. Factors that can cause arrhythmias include:
  • The heart's natural pacemaker (sinoatrial node) develops an abnormal rate or rhythm.
  • Injury or illness makes it difficult or impossible for electrical signals to move through the heart. Injury or illness may occur due to:
  • Electrical stimulation arises from abnormal areas of the heart, other than the sinoatrial node.
  • Stimulants—Makes the heart beat faster even though there is no need.
  • Electrolyte abnormalities—Can increase or decrease the ability for muscles to contract and change ability of nerves to send signals.
External factors that are associated with arrhythmias include:
  • Stress
  • Caffeine
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Illegal stimulants, such as cocaine and methedrine
  • Diet pills
  • Some over-the-counter medications, such as cough and cold medicines
  • Certain prescription medications, such as those that treat cardiovascular disease, asthma , depression , or thyroid disorders.

References

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.

Understanding your risk for arrhythmia. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/UnderstandYourRiskforArrhythmia/Understand-Your-Risk-for-Arrhythmia%5FUCM%5F002024%5FArticle.jsp. Updated October 25, 2012. Accessed March 19, 2014.

What causes an arrhythmia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/causes.html. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed March 19, 2014.

Revision Information

Health Library Search

Only show results from the selected categories.











Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormally fast heart rate. The abnormal heart rate originates in one of the heart's lower chambers (ventricles). It is diagnosed when there...

2 Tachycardia condition

Tachycardia is a rapid heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute. Sinus tachycardia, from the heart's sinus node, is a normal response to exercise, illness, or stress....

A premature ventricular beat (PVB) is an extra heartbeat caused by abnormal electrical activity. It starts in the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart) before a no...

4 Implantable Defibrillators Save Lives lifestyle - men's health

Did you know there is a device that could fix your heartbeat if it goes awry? For people with heart rhythm problems, an implantable defibrillator can truly be a lifesaver...

Maze is a surgical procedure for the heart. A maze-like pattern of incisions is made in the upper chambers of the heart. The chambers are called the atria....

Maze is a surgical procedure of the heart. A maze-like pattern of scars is made in the upper chambers of the heart. The chambers are called the atria. A traditional maze...

A heart assist system implantation is an artificial heart. It is also called a ventricular assist device (VAD). This single-chamber artificial heart works by compressed a...

The ventricles are the large lower chamber of the heart. They are responsible for moving blood to the organs and tissues of the body. In ventricular fibrillation, the hea...

Sick sinus syndrome (SSS) is not one specific disease. It is the term is used to describe several heart rhythm disorders. Sick sinus syndrome disorders include: This dis...

Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) is an abnormally fast heart beat, that begins and ends suddenly. While the normal resting heart rate is approximately 60-10...

12 Atrial Flutter condition

The heart has four chambers. It has two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles). Electrical signals regulate the heart beat. The signals also help the ...

13 Bradycardia condition

Bradycardia is an abnormally slow heart rate. In adults, it is defined as a heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute. Different types of bradycardia are collectively r...