Also called an irregular heartbeat, arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heart. It could be beating too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of arrhythmia and causes an irregular and fast heartbeat.

People with an arrhythmia may experience many symptoms including dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, and sweating. Arrhythmias are diagnosed using a range of tests including Holter and event monitors, electrocardiogram, stress testing, and electrophysiology studies.

Patients with arrhythmia may need a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). Other treatments include catheter ablation and surgery.

Risk Factors

Some conditions may increase risk of Arrhythmia, including:

  • Older age
  • Exposure to air pollutants
  • Genetics and family history
  • Personal habits such as smoking
  • Certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure and cardiomyopathy
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Sex
  • Surgical history


You may be able to notice if your heartbeat seems irregular. Other Arrhythmia symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting or nearly fainting
  • Foggy thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Weakness, dizziness, and lightheadedness

Detection and Diagnosis

A doctor may ask about your symptoms, medical history, and any family history with arrhythmia. Additionally, an EKG or physical exam may be necessary. Lastly, additional tests may be necessary to rule out other potential causes and to help inform your doctor of the best treatment methods.


Arrhythmia can often be treated successfully with heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medication. Pacemakers and implantable defibrillators, catheter ablation, and cardiac resynchronization therapy can also be used to treat irregular electrical signals in the heart.

Additional treatments can include managing any underlying conditions such as high blood pressure, electrolyte imbalance, heart disease, thyroid disease, or sleep apnea.