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Irreglar Heartbeat and Arrhythmia

What is Arrhythmia (Irregular Heartbeats)? What Causes Arrhythmias?

- ANSWatch detects and reports irregular heartbeats 


Glimpse of Facts on Irregular Heartbeats (Arrhythmias)

  • A broad definition of “Cardiac Arrhythmia” includes any irregular heart rhythm, overly fast heartbeats (above 120 beats per minute; tachycardias) and overly slow heartbeats (below 50; bradycardias)

  • In a normal heart rhythm, the sinus node in the heart generates an electrical impulse which travels through the right and left atrial / ventricular muscles to cause heart contractions

  • Cardiac arrhythmias occur as a result of abnormal electrical activity in the heart (signals and their conduction paths)

  • Most commonly observed arrhythmias are premature contraction, delayed contraction, skipped heartbeat, and extra systole (see Figure 1 below).  They can be combined in irregular order.  

  • Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can be serious or even life threatening. When the heart rate is too fast, too slow, or irregular, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. Lack of blood flow can damage the brain, heart, and other organs.

  • One of the high-risk arrhythmias is atrial fibrillation (AF) with the heart rate exceeding 150 beat/min or higher  (see Fig 1 below).  When the heart rate increases from  low levels (say from 60 to 90 beat/min), the heart pumps more blood out.  The benefit of higher heart rate for more blood supply becomes diminished when the venous return is slower than pumping.  AF turns into a fatal event when the heart is pumping extremely fast but with little blood in the heart.  As a result, most blood is stagnant  in the blood vessels (arteries and veins) and the body is in the state of ischemia.

Who Is At Risk for an Arrhythmia?

  • Millions of Americans have arrhythmias. They're very common in older adults.  Our  clinical experience indicates that about 70% of adults older than 70 have at least 1 event of arrhythmia during a 5-minute ANSWatch testing.  

  • About 2.2 million Americans have atrial fibrillation (continuous fast heartbeats that are life threatening).

  • Older adults tend to be more sensitive to the side effects of medicines, some of 
    which can cause arrhythmias. Some medicines used to treat arrhythmias can even cause arrhythmias as a side effect.

  • Arrhythmias are more common in people who have diseases or conditions that 
    weaken the heart, such as (1) heart attack (2) heart failure or cardiomyopathy (3)  heart tissue that's too thick or stiff or that hasn't formed normally (4) leaking or 
    narrowed heart valves (5) congenital heart defects

  • Other conditions also can increase the risk for arrhythmias, such as (1) high blood pressure (2) infections that damage the heart muscle (3) diabetes (4) sleep apnea (5) overactive or underactive thyroid gland (6) certain drugs (such as cocaine or amphetamines), or an imbalance of chemicals or other substances (such as potassium) in the bloodstream.

How Are Arrhythmias Treated?

  • Common arrhythmia treatments include medicines, medical procedures, and 

  • Treatment is needed when an arrhythmia causes serious symptoms, such as 
    dizziness, chest pain, or fainting.

  • It has been our experience that people with minor or mild arrhythmias (in terms of  frequency and type) can improve by life style changes (more exercise, eating healthy foods, and increasing sleep time, Yoga, Qi, etc.)

  • ANSWatch users have demonstrated that the easy-to-operate monitor plays a vital monitoring role in the treatment or self-improvement of arrhythmias

Most Dangerous Type of Arrhythmia - Atrial Fibrillation

  • Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other life-threatening complications. At least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib.

  • Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat.  When the heart rate increases from say 70 to 80 beat/min, the heart pumps more blood out .  But the benefit of a higher heart rate diminishes when the heart rate exceeds 90.    It takes time for the blood to return to the heart for the next pumping cycle.  If the blood return becomes the limiting step, increased heart rate will not help the overall cardiac output

  • In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) instead of beating effectively to move blood into the ventricles.  The heart rate can be as high as 200 during the AF episode.  Under such circumstances, blood circulation in the body becomes essentially stagnant,  resulting in blood clots, stroke, or heart failure

  • Episodes of atrial fibrillation can come and go, or you may develop atrial fibrillation that doesn't go away and may require treatment. Although atrial fibrillation itself usually isn't life-threatening, it is a serious medical condition that sometimes requires emergency treatment.

Figure 1: Arrhythmias (various types)
Case 1:  An early contraction followed by a delayed contraction (auto marked by large red lines); Most common arrhythmia type (Ventricular Premature Contraction, VPC)
Case 2: Delayed heartbeat (red)
Case 3: Skipped heartbeat (red)
Case 4:  Cardiac arrhythmias (Twin Peaks)
Case 5:  Cardiac arrhythmias (Triplet Peaks)
Case 6:  Atrial / Ventricular fibrillation (lasting for 3 seconds from 278-281 sec)
Case 7: Simultaneous testing with ANSWatch and ECG (a missing 
heartbeat caught by ANSWatch was corresponding to an abnormal 
ECG waveform; indicated by an arrow)
Case 8:  Simultaneous testing with ANSWatch and ECG (periodic 
early contractions caught by ANSWatch were corresponding to 
early QRS on ECG)
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