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Arrhythmia Symptoms

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Arrhythmia Symptoms


Some arrhythmias can occur without even knowing it, while others may cause the feeling of the lightheadedness, heart “racing,” or dizziness.   At some point, many adults have had short lived heart rhythm changes.

Certain heart rhythms, especially the ones that last long enough to affect the function of the heart, can be serious and even deadly.

  • Palpitations or Skipped Beats 

Although it often feels like the heart missed a beat, what really occurred is the heart had an early premature heartbeat.  An extra beat that occurs before the heart has a chance to fill with blood results in a pause.


  • Flutter 

A fluttering sensation (commonly described as like butterflies in the chest) is usually due to skipped or extra beats that occur consecutively or other kinds of abnormal heart rhythms.


  • Slow Heartbeat – Bradycardia

If the heart is beating too slow (usually under 60 beats per minute), not enough blood carrying oxygen flows to the body.


The symptoms of a slow heartbeat are: 

Dizziness (spinning sensation)
Near fainting or fainting

Fatigue (feeling tired)



  • Rapid Heartbeat – Tachycardia 

When the heart is beating too fast (usually over 100 beats per minute), the ventricles don’t have enough time to fill with blood, so they can’t effectively pump blood throughout the body.


The symptoms of tachycardia are:  

Beating out of rhythm
Fast heart beat or a racing heartbeat
Chest pain
Skipping a beat


Shortness of breath


Fainting or near fainting
Chaotic, quivering or irregular rhythm 

Sudden irregular, chaotic and rapid heartbeats may be indicative of atrial fibrillation (AFib).   Rarely, fainting may be caused by ventricular fibrillation (VF ), the most dangerous arrhythmia.  VF is the primary cause of sudden cardiac death because within seconds, the individual will lose consciousness and, without immediate emergency treatment, die within minutes.


  • Almost Fainting – Presyncope
    Sometimes individuals have symptoms before they faint.  Presyncope can be indicative of a heart rhythm disorder and should be carefully evaluated.


Symptoms include:
Narrowed, tunneled or blurred vision
Nausea and/or vomiting
Heart palpitations
Confusion or difficulty speaking coherently or clearly
Vertigo (spinning), dizziness, and lightheadedness
Stomach-ache / abdominal discomfort


  • Fainting – Syncope 

Fainting from a heart rhythm is more likely to occur without warning and suddenly than fainting from other causes, such as low blood sugar or dehydration.  It is important that any sudden loss of consciousness should be carefully evaluated by a physician.  In some cases, the only warning sign of a dangerous heart rhythm that leads to sudden cardiac death is fainting.

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