Love can make your heart skip a beat, but it\’s a more grim spectacle when it turns out that the skipping beat is actually heart arrhythmia. Heart arrhythmia is a very serious heart illness that affects over 31 million people worldwide. It’s a heart condition that gives irregular heart rhythms, where it either beats too fast, too slow or too irregularly. World Heart Rhythm Week is aimed at raising awareness around this illness.
All about your heart rhythm
Your heart is the most important muscle in your body, as it pumps blood throughout your circulatory system, providing your body with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function. At rest, the normal adult heart rate is between 60 to 80 beats per minute. When the heart is pumping blood at a normal heart rhythm the electrical signals in the heart muscle start in the upper chambers, called atria, and travels to the lower chambers called ventricles, signaling the heart to pump blood. An arrhythmia happens when the electricity connection in your circulatory system is faulty.
There are different types of arrhythmias that can happen depending on where they occur in the chambers:
- Bradycardia – is an abnormally slow heart rate
- Tachycardia – is an abnormally fast heart rate
- Atrial arrhythmias – comes from the upper heart chambers (atria)
- Ventricular arrhythmias – come from the lower heart chambers (ventricles)
Heart rhythm over 40
Heart arrhythmia can be very dangerous if you’re over 40. This is partly due to wear and tear of the heart as it gets older. Palpitations may be more common as you age where general underlying health issues could affect heart health. Yet it is not uncommon for arrhythmias to happen to perfectly healthy individuals, where they may experience a mild fluttering or palpitations. Palpitations may also be caused by emotional stress, physical activity and consuming caffeine or nicotine.
Keeping your heart healthy with food
It\’s crucial to keep your heart healthy by eating the right foods and doing the right types of exercise. One of the best ways to curb a recurring heart arrhythmia is to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based protein sources like beans, nuts and seeds. It is advisable to steer clear of food that is too salty or foods that are rich in saturated fats and high sugars. Energy drinks should be completely avoided if you have an arrhythmia, while caffeine and alcoholic drinks should be monitored. Abusing any of these stimulants could trigger an arrhythmia attack.
Keeping your heart healthy with exercise
Exercise pumps adrenaline into your body, and too much adrenaline can be detrimental to people with a heart arrhythmia. This shouldn\’t stop you from exercising though, as exercise is always good for your heart. The type of exercise you do should accommodate your condition. The rule of thumb for arrhythmia patients is to avoid lifting weights as this can put too much strain and stress on your heart. Instead, patients can opt for cardio or yoga. Yoga has been found to be especially useful in preventing more recurring arrhythmia.
Treating an abnormal heart rhythm
If you suspect the fluttering in your heart is abnormal, seek immediate help. This is especially true if the palpitations are accompanied by a shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, light-headedness, fainting or near fainting as well as chest pains. An arrhythmia diagnosis is identified by a doctor after a series of checks which involve a detailed interview. This will include questions on your medical history, family history, diet and lifestyle.
A single episode of heart arrhythmia may not be much to worry about, as many people suffer the occasional skipped beat for environmental reasons. If you’re experiencing an abnormal heart rhythm often, it’s best to seek medical professional. After all, a healthy heart is a cornerstone for a healthy you!
At Renaissance Medical Aid in Namibia we want to keep you heart healthy!