Sunday, December 11, 2005

arrhythmias, cardiac

arrhythmias, cardiac - Cardiac arrhythmia refers to the presence of a heart rate and rhythm other than normal sinus rhythm. There are numerous types of arrhythmias, including sinus bradycardia, atrial fibrillation, sinus tachycardia and premature ventricular contractions. The incidence of cardiac arrhythmias rise with age and all types may be encountered. The causes also vary and include digitalis intoxication, increase of heart fibrous tissue, hypertension, and underlying heart disease. Symptoms include fatigue, fainting, confusion, light-headedness, heart flutter, and anxiety. Many arrhythmias, however, may be asymptomatic and found unexpectedly in a routine exam.
Treatment for arrhythmias involves determining the exact cause. This is generally done through a workup that may include laboratory tests, X-rays, EKG, and Holter monitors. (A Holter monitor is a constant EKG recorder that is worn for 24 to 48 hours, to detect nonconstant problems.) A variety of antiarrhythmic drugs are available and may be prescribed to control the arrhythmias. If the arrhythmia involves a complete heart block the treatment of choice is to implant surgically an artificial pacemaker. Arrhythmias, particularly atrial fibrillation, are frequent early manifestations of CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE or other heart disease. Because of this, people with arrhythmias should be checked frequently for other heart disease.
See also ATRIAL FIBRILLATION; BRADYCARDIA, SINUS; TACHYCARDIA, SINUS; VENTRICULAR CONTRACTIONS; VENTRICULAR FIBRILLATION.
Phipps, W. J., et al. Medical Surgical Nursing. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Co., 1983. Scherer, J. C. Introductory Medical-Surgical Nursing. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co.,1982.


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