Arrhythmia is simply an abnormal heartbeat. In some cases it is completely benign, brought on by factors that may change the heart rate, such as exercise or stress. What happens is that something inhibits or disrupts the electrical signals that control the heartbeat. For people with a healthy heart arrhythmia is generally not a medical concern. For those who have had heart problems in the past or who are at risk for heart disease it is important to understand how to properly care for your heart and to try to prevent abnormal functioning. Exactly what triggers arrhythmia? What can you do to take care of your heart?
Who is Most at Risk?
Who should be most aware of potential triggers for an abnormal heartbeat? Anyone who has had coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, or a congenital heart defect may be more likely to experience arrhythmia as an underlying heart problem may be the root cause of the faulty signals. Those who are at risk for heart disease because of factors such as smoking, alcohol or drug use, a poor diet, advanced age, obesity, or the use of some medications should also be more careful about avoiding triggers and increasing heart health in general. Eating a heart healthy diet, getting regular exercise, reducing stress, and making lifestyle choices such as not smoking and managing weight can help to promote a healthy heart.
The following can contribute to heart rhythm disorders:
- Caffeine, as a stimulant this substance can increase the heart rate, blood flow, and possibly lead to palpitations, flutters, or a strong heart beat.
- Tobacco, and more specifically the nicotine in tobacco which is also a stimulant.
- Alcohol, for some people drinking can cause arrhythmia.
- Drugs, substance abuse is definitely something to avoid to protect your heart. Stimulant drugs in particular can lead to abnormal heart rhythm.
- Prescription drugs can also have an adverse effect on normal heart functioning.
- Over the counter drugs, including diet pills which are often stimulants.
- Herbal medicine, plant medicine that has a stimulating effect may trigger arrhythmia in some people.
- Pollution, even some of the toxins in the air, such as cigarette smoke, car exhaust and paint thinners can affect your heart.
Understanding what triggers arrhythmia is important for preventing this disorder. While people with heart disease should be most aware of potential causes, even someone with a healthy heart or who is at risk for heart disease can experience arrhythmia. Take care of your heart, avoid or minimize potential hazards when possible, and see your doctor regularly so you are well aware of the state of your heart.
Heart Rhythm Society https://www.hrsonline.org/patientinfo/riskfactors/
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/arr/arr\_causes.html
Mamas Health https://www.mamashealth.com/arrhythmia.asp
photo by Matsukawa