As we all know, the heart is the most important organ that keeps us alive. It is an organ with a power generation system. The heart keeps beating because it has a complex current conduction system.
This natural pacemaker controls the heartbeats by the sinoatrial node of the right atrium. Electric currents are sent from the atrium to the ventricle, through atrioventricular node and the His bundle, causing the heart to contract.
It maintains the normal blood pressure and blood supply.
If this unique electrical conduction is problematic and “short-circuited”, it will produce irregular heartbeats, or heart arrhythmias.
The heart rate of a calm normal adult is between 60 to 100 beats per minute while that of a child can reach 120 to 140 beats. The heart rate of an elderly can be as slow as 50 beats per minute.
However, the heart rate and blood pressure could drop and lead to cardiac arrest or tachycardia because of malfunctions like heart blocks or myocardial infarctions.
Depending on the type of arrhythmias, the patients may have a rapid or irregular heartbeat or not have any symptoms at all.
It may not be so serious to indicate cardiac dysplasia for most people if their hearts skip a beat or two occasionally. However, a heart rate that is irregular, too fast or too slow can be a danger sign.
In some cases, a patient may lose consciousness when there is a severe reduction of blood supply to the brain. This is known as Stokes-Adams disease, in which the patient may patient may feel dizzy or suffer a blackout while walking or looking up suddenly.
If the situation worsens, they may fall down as their limbs lose strength, pass out and have a seizure. They may even stop breathing and die on the spot.
That said, we need to take heart arrhythmia seriously as it can cause a patient to suffer shock, faint or die instantly.
When you feel like your heart is beating abnormally, you should visit a cardiologist and have an examination.
Find out the type of the arrhythmias, assess the severity and the cause, and take the most appropriate treatment.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 5
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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