There are a variety of conditions and diseases that can greatly impact the health, rhythm,
and overall function of the heart. Because there are a myriad of cardiac conditions and diseases with a wide range of distinctive
signs, we believe it's important for our patients to be informed about the most critical ones. This article will define and describe
atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, heart attacks, and heart failure.
Heart rhythm conditions
are often a sign of an underlying issue, and may even pose problems in themselves. Two of the main types of cardiac rhythm
conditions include atrial fibrillation (AFIB) and arrhythmia.
Atrial Fibrillation (AFIB)
is common in older adults and may not present obvious symptoms.
the atria, or upper chambers of the heart, begin to beat out of sync with the ventricles, or lower chambers of the heart.
Is characterized by a rapid rhythm
and reduces the heart's effectiveness at pumping blood.
As a result,
blood clots can form in the heart chambers, potentially reaching the brain and causing a stroke or heart failure.
AFIB is usually caused by
an existing heart condition. Other causes include high blood pressure, heart attack, and coronary artery disease.
dizziness, feeling out of breath, tiredness, a feeling of heart racing or fluttering, an uneven heartbeat, and chest pain.
Typical treatment goals
strive to restore rhythm to as close to normal as possible and preventing the formation of blood clots.
is a problem with the rhythm of the heartbeat-beating too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.
are harmless, but some can be life-threatening. This is because a lack of blood flow to the body can damage the brain, heart, and other organs.
Arrhythmia can be caused by:
heart disease, stress, smoking, heavy alcohol use and certain medications.
Noticeable symptoms of arrhythmia include:
fainting, dizziness, heart palpitations, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain.
Treatment depends on
the type and severity of irregular heart rhythm.
In most cases,
people with arrhythmias can live normal, healthy lives, but never take the risk of a "wait-and-see" approach.
is a broad term that refers to a disease of the heart muscle.
The heart muscle
becomes enlarged, thick, or abnormally rigid.
As cardiomyopathy progresses,
the heart becomes weaker.
Cardiomyopathy can lead to
heart rhythm problems, heart failure, and sudden cardiac arrest.
Symptoms of cardiomyopathy
generally get worse as the disease progresses.
In some cases,
patients may not experience any symptoms in the early stages.
Common symptoms include:
Shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in the ankles, feet, and legs, irregular heartbeat, and dizziness/ feeling lightheaded.
also known as myocardial infarctions, generally come on suddenly.
Heart attacks occur when
a blood clot develops at the site of plaque in a coronary artery, suddenly cutting off most or all blood supply to that part of the heart muscle.
Permanent heart damage or death can happen
if the blood supply is not restored quickly, the heart muscle will begin to die due to lack of oxygen.
Heart Attack Symptoms:
Chest tightness and discomfort.
Most heart attacks cause pain in the center of the chest, lasting for more than a few minutes. Discomfort may subside for a minute and
then return. The sensation is an uncomfortable pressure, a feeling of swelling, fullness, or a painful squeezing.
Pain or discomfort
in other areas of the body, including one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
Shortness of breath
may occur before any feeling of discomfort arises in the chest, but most often accompanies it.
Sweating and nausea.
Breaking out in a cold sweat and feeling nauseated or lightheaded are also common symptoms of a heart attack.
Call 911 immediately
if you think you may be having a heart attack.
Heart Failure (congestive heart failure)
is typically a chronic, long-standing condition.
Heart failure occur when
the heart fails to pump enough blood to maintain the needs of the body.
Heart failure is a serious condition,
but when the symptoms are managed with proper treatment, patients with heart failure can lead a normal, active life.
The best way to prevent heart failure
is to manage risk factors that lead to it, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, obesity, and diabetes.
If you're concerned
that you may have or are at risk of having any of the cardiac diseases and conditions we discussed, we highly encourage you to call your COPC
physician. In addition to the cardiology expertise at our practice, you can also take advantage of the COPC cardiac testing services and learn your risk for cardiac
conditions and diseases!
Learn About COPC Cardiac Testing