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A to Z: Dysrhythmia

May also be called: Arrhythmia

Dysrhythmia (dis-RITH-mee-ah) is an abnormality in the heart's beat or rhythm caused by electrical impulses that aren't functioning properly. The heart can beat irregularly, too quickly (tachycardia), or too slowly (bradycardia).

More to Know

An irregular heart rhythm has been described as a heart that flutters, races, or skips a beat. Other symptoms can include lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, sweating, and fainting. Some people experience no symptoms at all and are surprised when dysrhythmia is detected at a routine doctor's visit.

Many factors can lead to dysrhythmia, including heart attack, heart and valve disorders, imbalances in blood chemistry and hormone levels, high blood pressure, smoking, caffeine, substance abuse, and even some medications.

Keep in Mind

Dysrhythmias are often harmless, but can be an indication of a much larger problem (the heart not adequately pumping blood to vital organs), which can be life threatening. If you suspect dysrhythmia, consult your doctor for testing and treatment.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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