What are Arrhythmias? (VIDEO)Your heart is electric. In this video you'll see how your heart's electrical system works, and what happens when it malfunctions. Voyage inside the human body as Dr. Mehmet Oz and others explain the dangers of heart arrhythmias, including tachycardia, bradycardia, and atrial fibrillation.
Your heart has four hollow chambers. The atria, which are smaller and less muscular, are at the top, and the ventricles are at the bottom. The right atrium and ventricle pump oxygen-depleted blood to the lungs, and the left atrium and ventricle pump newly oxygenated blood to the body. Read more
Each heartbeat starts with an electrical impulse from the sinoatrial node, a small group of cells in your right atrium. The impulse is carried by the Purkinje fibers, located in the inner ventricular walls of the heart. The electrical signal causes your right and left atria to contract and fills the relaxed ventricles with blood. The electrical impulse in a normal, healthy heart follows a precise pathway across the heart. From the sinoatrial node, it travels to the atrioventricular node at the center of your heart and from there to your ventricles, causing them to contract and discharge blood throughout your body. The cells then recharge (repolarize) in preparation for the next heartbeat. Read more
- Coronary artery disease (CAD) restricts blood flow to the heart due to narrowed arteries. This can lead to heart tissue death myocardial infarction, or heart attack, and scarring.
- Cardiomyopathy occurs when the ventricle walls stretch and enlarge (dilated cardiomyopathy) or when the left ventricle wall thickens and constricts (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). This decreases the heart's ability to pump and often leads to heart tissue damage. Unlike other muscles in the body, the heart grows weaker, not stronger, as it becomes larger.
- Genetics (being born with a heart abnormality)
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
If the arrhythmia does produce serious symptoms or is life threatening, a number of treatment options are available. Read more