Transient Idiopathic Arrhythmia

Cardiac arrhythmia is a medical condition which occurs when the cardiac electrical impulses regulating the heartbeats do not work properly, thereby causing the heart to beat too slow, or too fast, or irregularly. Transient idiopathic arrhythmia refers to arrhythmiawhich occurs spontaneously and then disappears just as suddenly.

Transient idiopathic arrhythmia is typically not serious. It may feel as if the heart is racing or fluttering. Some types of cardiac arrhythmias may cause discomforting signs and symptoms and may even be deadly.

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Treatment of transient idiopathic arrhythmia involves elimination or control of irregular heartbeats. Most instances of transient idiopathic arrhythmia arise or get aggravated due to a damaged or a weak heart. Hence, going for a healthy lifestyle can help decrease the episodes of transient idiopathic arrhythmia.

Symptoms of transient idiopathic arrhythmia

Transient idiopathic arrhythmia usually does not cause any severe signs and symptoms. In fact, the condition is often diagnosed during a routine test.

Some of the common signs and symptoms accompanying transient idiopathic arrhythmia are listed below:

  • Related to heart defects:
    • A racy heartbeat
    • Fluttering sensations in the chest area
    • A slower than normal heartbeat
    • Related to decreased cardiac blood output:
      • Wheezing or breathlessness
      • Chest discomfort or pain
      • Lightheadedness
      • Near fainting or fainting
      • Dizziness
      • Weakness

Transient idiopathic arrhythmia may increase the risk to medical complications such as heart failure or stroke.

Causes

During a heartbeat, the electrical impulses which cause cardiac contractions follow an exact path through the heart. Any kind of disruption in these impulses-pathway can result in transient idiopathic arrhythmia, or other forms of arrhythmia.

Working of a normal heart: During the process of a heartbeat the upper chambers contract and fill the relaxed lower chambers with blood. Such contraction begins after the sinus node passes an electrical impulse leading to contraction of both the upper chambers.The impulse then goes to the heart’s center, then to the atrioventricular node lying between the upper and lower chambers, and finally to the ventricles.This process occurs smoothly in a healthy heart and causes a normal resting heartbeat rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Some of the risk factors which can increase the vulnerability towards developing transient idiopathic arrhythmia are listed below:

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  • Alterations to the structure of the heart, like cardiomyopathy; or other types of cardiac damage; or varied heart anomalies like abnormal valves, narrowed cardiac arteries, etc.
  • Coronary heart disease, i.e., blocked arteries in the heart.
  • Cardiac tissue scarring from a previous heart attack.
  • Prior surgery of the heart.
  • A heart attack occurring at this moment.
  • Congenital cardiac disease: People who are born with a heart defect may suffer from transient idiopathic arrhythmia.
  • Hypertension: It elevates the risk to coronary heart disease, and can cause thickening and stiffening of the left ventricle walls which alters the passage of electrical impulses across the heart.
  • Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes greatly increases the risk to developing high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
  • Hyperthyroidism/hypothyroidism: Excessive thyroid hormone production can speed up metabolism resulting in transient idiopathic arrhythmia involving irregular or fast heartbeats. Contrarily, decreased thyroid hormone secretion slows down metabolism resulting in slow or irregular heartbeats.
  • Nicotine and caffeine use/Drug abuse: Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants which can fasten heartbeats. Use of illegal drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can severely affect the heart rate and increase the risk to not only transient idiopathic arrhythmia, but also the serious forms of arrhythmia.
  • Alcohol consumption: The electrical impulses in the heart can get altered due to excessive intake of alcohol. Alcoholism or prolonged alcohol abuse can result in inefficient heart functioning and cause cardiomyopathy.
  • Medications and dietary supplements:Certain dietary supplements and prescription drugs as well as cold and cough medications with pseudoephedrine may play a part in development of transient idiopathic arrhythmia.
  • Electrolyte imbalance: Sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are electrolytes present in the blood. They help activate and carry out the cardiac electrical impulses. High or low levels of electrolytes can disrupt the impulses and lead to transient idiopathic arrhythmia development.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: This sleep disorder interrupts breathing while sleeping, thereby increasing the risk to slowing down of heartbeats.
  • Other causes: Certain herbal treatments, stress, air pollution, and electrical shock can also contribute towards development of transient idiopathic arrhythmia

Treatment of transient idiopathic arrhythmia

Treatment for transient idiopathic arrhythmia is usually not required, unless it is causing extensive symptoms or posing risk to development of complications. Lifestyle changes, intake of a healthy diet, and regular exercising usually takes care of minor cases of transient idiopathic arrhythmia.

  • Transient idiopathic arrhythmia involving slow heartbeats are corrected with a pacemaker.
  • Transient idiopathic arrhythmia involving fast heartbeats are treated as follows:
    • Anti-arrhythmic medications prescribed by a doctor.
    • Surgical interventions like coronary bypass surgery or maze procedure.
    • Use of an ICD or animplantable cardioverter-defibrillator.
    • Vagal maneuvers: They consist of varied procedures like immersingthe face in ice water, holding the breath and straining, or coughing, which in turn cause the heart rate to slow down.
    • Ablation therapy: It involves insertion of 1 or more catheters (with cooling or heated tips) via the blood vessels into the transient idiopathic arrhythmia causing areas of the heart, thereby ablating it.
    • Cardioversion: This procedure uses an electrical shock to reset the heart to a normal rhythm.
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