The Link Between Heart Disease And Arrhythmias

Heart disease, The Link Between Heart Disease And Arrhythmias, Dr. Nicolle

Hello. This is Heart Health Tuesdays! Today, we’ll talk about heart disease’s connection to arrhythmias. Normally, your heart beats at a steady pace between about 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). However, in some cases, your heart may beat faster, slower, or in an irregular rhythm. This is known as heart arrhythmia.


In many cases, a heart arrhythmia is only temporary and goes away on its own. That said, you should never let a heart arrhythmia continue without seeing a doctor. When it occurs alongside heart disease, it can be dangerous and, in some cases, life-threatening.


What Is Heart Arrhythmia?

Your heart has a natural pacemaker known as the sinoatrial (SA) node. This node controls the rhythm of your heartbeats with electrical impulses.


Under normal conditions, the electrical impulses ensure your heartbeats are steady and strong at a measured pace. If you are experiencing an arrhythmia, these impulses may be too fast, too slow, or off-rhythm, which in turn affects the pace of your heartbeats.

heart with EKG


Rapid Abnormal Rhythms

Resting heart rates over 100 bpm are considered rapid abnormal rhythms. This is known as tachycardia, and it can feel like a fluttering sensation in your chest that leaves you feeling faint, dizzy, or out of breath.


Note that to be considered tachycardia, your heart rate must be measured when you’re at rest. Having a faster heart rate during and immediately after exercise is perfectly normal. But if you are sitting on the couch without exerting yourself, a fast heart rate is abnormal, and it could be a cause for concern.


You may experience tachycardia in the atria of your heart or in the ventricles. It often weakens the pumping of your heart, which can reduce blood flow.


Slow Abnormal Rhythms

If your heart rate falls below the lower limit of a regular resting rate, 60 bpm, this is considered a slow abnormal rhythm. It is also known as bradycardia.


Like tachycardia, having a slightly slower heart rate isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, if you get a lot of exercise and you’re very physically fit, you may have a slower average heart rate. Your bpm may also fall below this level when you are sleeping or if you are taking medication for high blood pressure.


That said, if none of these conditions apply to you, persistently slow heartbeats could indicate your body isn’t getting an adequate supply of oxygenated blood. Bradycardia can also coincide with skipped heartbeats in some cases.

checking for a pulse

Irregular Rhythms

You may still have a heart arrhythmia if you don’t experience persistent slow or fast heartbeats, but instead, you feel like your heart occasionally skips a beat or beats prematurely. This is considered an irregular rhythm.


While these heart palpitations can be uncomfortable, they’re not usually serious if they occur without any other symptoms. If you have chest pain, struggle to breathe, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or you faint alongside heart palpitations, you should seek medical treatment.


One of the most common causes of irregular heartbeats is atrial fibrillation (AFib). The symptoms of AFib are shortness of breath, palpitations, or even persistent pain similar to a heart attack. Your heart rate may also be very fast, or it can be a normal rate. AFib can increase your risk of having a stroke or heart failure.


Heart Arrhythmia and Heart Disease

Heart disease, The Link Between Heart Disease And Arrhythmias, Dr. Nicolle

Heart arrhythmias can occur as an isolated event, but they’re usually more serious if they occur alongside heart disease. Conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to more severe forms of heart rhythm disturbances, as can other heart disease risk factors such as smoking and high cholesterol.


Arrhythmia and Heart Disease Treatment

Sometimes heart arrhythmias are caused by underlying initial damage to the heart, such as can be seen with early heart disease. This means that it’s very important to begin utilizing common heart disease treatment strategies like eating healthier, getting more rest, quitting smoking, and exercising more frequently as soon as possible.


Speak to your doctor about any irregularities with your heart right away. They will help you identify the problem and help you find the best treatment regimen for the problem. This may involve prescription medications and consulting a cardiologist for their expertise in treating the problem.


Certain anti-arrhythmic medications and blood thinners can help bring rapid heart rates under control. In some cases, you may need an implantable device like a pacemaker or defibrillator to reduce your risk of cardiac arrest. These devices regulate your heart rhythms by creating their own electrical impulses.


If you have extensive coronary artery blockages in addition to any arrhythmia, you may need coronary bypass surgery to restore proper blood flow to your heart and help treat the arrhythmia.


Food For Thought

Heart palpitations and other irregularities can be benign or sometimes severe problems. It’s best to always seek advice from a doctor who can identify the underlying cause of these conditions and help you find an effective treatment plan.

If you would like to receive a free resource sheet to support your quest for better heart health, click the button below to receive your gift.


Heart disease, The Link Between Heart Disease And Arrhythmias, Dr. Nicolle


I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.


As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy.


Tools to Improve Heart Health

Blood Pressure Monitoring

It’s very important to monitor your blood pressure. I often recommend an automatic upper arm blood pressure cuff, but a wrist blood pressure monitor is also acceptable.

7 Series Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
Heart disease, The Link Between Heart Disease And Arrhythmias, Dr. Nicolle

7 Series Upper Arm Blood Pressure MonitorHeart disease, The Link Between Heart Disease And Arrhythmias, Dr. Nicolle

Weight Monitoring

Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.

Body Composition Monitor And Scale With Seven Fitness Indicators
Heart disease, The Link Between Heart Disease And Arrhythmias, Dr. Nicolle

Body Composition Monitor And Scale With Seven Fitness IndicatorsHeart disease, The Link Between Heart Disease And Arrhythmias, Dr. NicolleRemember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.


Let me know what you think in the comment section below.


Stay healthy,


Dr. Nicolle


PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.

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The Link Between Heart Disease And Arrhythmias

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