How common are arrhythmias?

John Crowley
By John Crowley Latest Reply 2015-05-06 16:08:21 -0500
Started 2009-10-23 11:34:43 -0500

My wife has had an arrhythmia her whole life. It doesn't affect her health. She's an avid runner (including participating twice in overnight 175 mile relay runs). Because she's in great health, she's never been to see a cardiologist. Do you think she should? What would a cardiologist be able to tell her?

8 replies

StarSunsets 2011-08-18 10:04:58 -0500 Report

I myself have an arrhythmia that affects about only 1 in every 100,000 people (WPW). I'm not even in my twenties yet and I was told to go see a cardiologist. I have no symptoms and I feel fine, but it was best to let my doctor affirm my heart health.

HeartHawk 2010-11-11 09:06:28 -0600 Report

Arrhythmias affect roughly 5% of the population according to Dr. Richard E. Klabunde in his book Cardiovascular Physiology Concepts. According to Dr. Klabunde, an electrocardiogram (EKG) administered by a physician is the recommended way to begin diagnosing the seriousness of an arrhythmia so, yes, seeing a cardiologist would seem prudent.

I have a slight arrhythmia myself called Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs) and occasional Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs). Because it is often difficult to catch these ectopic (irregular) beats it is common to diagnose them by taking a 24-hour EKG. This is done by wearing a device called a Holter Monitor (named after the guy who invented it) which is about the size of iPhone and is wired up to your chest similar to a standard EKG. This is how my arrhythmia was diagnosed.

My cardiologist told me that PACs and PVCs I have are generally benign and that virtually everyone has an ectopic beat from time to time, particularly as they age. Most people do not notice them at all (but he explained that thin people tend to feel them more often). It is the type and duration of the arrhythmia that he says I should be concerned with. For example, I need to remain on guard that my PACs do not develop into Atrial Fibrillation (AF) which is a sustained fluttering of the upper heart chambers.

lisa619 2010-09-30 09:33:59 -0500 Report

She does need to see a cardiologist. What type of arrhythmias she has he would tell her and give her medicine.

Canadiantiger 2010-10-30 13:15:42 -0500 Report

Absolutely! This is not something to be overlooked … especially as we age. Like many other things … it does weaken. The cardiologist will be able to determine: the type of arrhythmia (which is important to know), and whether or not her heart is working harder as a result of it. Has this extreme (for heart patients) exercise hurt or helped her heart to become weaker or stronger? Should she continue doing this level of exercise? Does she need to be on medication to normalize the beat? These are important questions.

I have a congenital heart condition … part of it is still considered risky even in 2010. As well as atrial fibrilation and ventricular techycardia, both of those conditions are related to the heartbeat.

tieleg 2010-11-11 06:18:52 -0600 Report

She must see a cardiologist. No doubt about it. There are many things that can happen to someone with an arrhythmia. She should really see her doctor and arrange for a stress test as soon as possible

Crass 2010-11-26 04:59:15 -0600 Report

Yes she should see a cardiologist cause this can lead to more heart problems along the way . Just as a preventative measure. She may be in good health now but who knows when something else can go wrong

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