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Cardiac Arrhythmia

Cardiac Arrhythmia

Cardiac arrhythmia or Cardiac dysrhythmia refers to a disturbance of the heart rhythm. When the regular heart rhythm is disturbed, it can lead to symptoms that can range from mild to life-threatening. The heart may have slower beats or there may be a blockage of the electrical pathway of the heart. One of the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation. This occurs in older persons when the upper atrial chambers of the heart do not pump correctly. This can lead to blood clots. Heart failure or electrolyte imbalance can bring on cardiac arrhythmia.


Tachycardia or Tachydysrhythmia is a condition where there is rapid heartbeat due to inefficiency in the blood circulation. Tachycardia is a condition where the heart rhythm is more than 100 beats/minute. This can happen due to stress, hyperthyroidism or alcohol. On the other hand, Bradycardia or bradyarrhythmia is a condition where the heart rhythm is less than 60 beats/min. A ventricular arrhythmia can be life-threatening. This happens when there is ventricular fibrillation. It is essential to treat this condition and restore the rhythm within minutes to prevent heart damage and death. Allergic reactions can trigger arrhythmia.


Some persons suffering from cardiac arrhythmia notice symptoms such as dizziness, fainting and lightheadedness. There may be a fluttering or pounding sensation in the chest. Anti arrhythmic agents such as amiodarone and sotalol are prescribed to maintain the normal rhythm of the heart. Amiodarone is effective atrial flutter and to establish heart's normal rhythm.

In cases of atrial fibrillation, Warfarin is used to prevent blood clots. Medication for cardiac dysrhythmia includes beta blockers such as metoprolol and atenolol to reduce the heart rhythm. An electronic cardiac pacemaker may be implanted to regulate the heart beat.


Potassium Gluconate

This is a potassium supplement useful in those prone to low blood potassium. Its side effects include numbness and tingling of the extremities, confusion, weakness, arrhythmia, ECG changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, GI ulcerations, GI bleeding, intestinal obstruction, and intestinal perforation.

Using potassium gluconate

1. Should not be used in cases of severe kidney disease, acute dehydration, or those who are using potassium sparing diuretics (e.g. spironolactone, triamterene).
2. Enteric coated potassium tablets cannot be recommended due to increased risk of GI bleeding and ulceration.
3. Minimize GI symptoms by taking this medication with food.

Adult and adolescent dose: oral, elixir, 10-20 mEq of potassium diluted in one-half glass of cold water or juice, two to four times a day; or 5-10 mEq potassium in tablet form, two to four times a day; dosage adjusted to need (up to 100 mEq potassium per day).

Cardiac event monitor

The cardiac event monitor is a small device that is used to record the electrical activity of the heart. The cardiac event monitoring test allows for on-demand heart monitoring outside the hospital/clinic settings when symptoms are noted by the patient as he/she goes through the normal routine. The information collected by a cardiac event monitor is often sent over the phone to a doctor's office, clinic or hospital. This helps the doctor choose a line of treatment to meet the specific needs and demands of the patients' condition. The cardiac event monitors are easy to use by people of all ages.

The cardiac event monitor is clipped to the waistband of the patient. The monitor is connected to a set of wires which are attached to two electrodes worn on the patient. The EKG electrodes are small sticky patches attached to the patient's chest. The monitor can be worn for up to 30 days. Normally cardiac event monitor is used to record an abnormal heart rhythm. The patient triggers the cardiac event monitor device when he first begins to feel signs of dizziness, weakness, lightheadedness and fluttering of the heart.

Loop recorder: This is a small device that is attached to the patient's chest with electrodes. The smallest type of pre-symptom event monitor is about the size of a pager. The event monitor device constantly records heartbeats. The patient presses a button on the monitor when any symptoms occur so that a permanent recording is made of the heart rhythm. The monitor also saves some information about how the patient's heart was beating before the save button was pressed. This is called pre symptom recording. This feature is especially useful to detect the patient's condition at the time the heart problems occur.

Event recorder: This is a small monitoring device that is used only when symptoms of the heart problems occur. It does not have any electrodes attached to the chest.

Doctors can also diagnose whether the heart beats too rapidly, too slowly or irregularly during the arrhythmia by means of this event monitoring device. Doctors can also diagnose an arrhythmia by obtaining an electrocardiogram. If the doctor suspects the patient to suffer an arrhythmia and the symptoms are infrequent, then the cardiac event monitor is used by the doctor to monitor the patient over longer periods of time. Find out more on Holter monitor.


  • The patient should ensure to keep the patches within the designated areas.
  • The monitor batteries should be changed at the same time each day.
  • A diary has to be kept handy to record the events.
  • Transmitting of the recording can be done daily, weekly or whenever the patient feels symptoms that warrant immediate attention.
  • If the findings indicate that immediate medical care is required, then the doctor has to be notified right away.

Cardiac Arrhythmia

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