Cardiologist Answers the Most Googled Heart Health Questions

              • Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the United States. More than 900,000.000 Americans will die from cardiovascular disease by 2020.
              • According to the American Heart Association, deaths due to irregular heart rhythms are on the rise, particularly among young people.
              • Heart health experts answer the most frequently asked questions, including those about heart arrhythmias.
  • Heart disease is not discriminatory. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for men, women, and people from all races and ethnicities.
  • Many people use the internet to find out more about heart disease and health.
  • Google Trends has revealed the most popular questions regarding heart health. Experts have answered these questions to help spread awareness and ease curiosity.

A heart arrhythmia is what?

  • When the rhythm of the heartbeat is abnormal, it’s called heart arrhythmia.
  • Dr. Martha Gulati is a cardiologist and president of the American Society of Preventive Cardiology at Cedars Sinai Heart Institute. She spoke to Healthline.
  • Dr. Thomas, an electrophysiologist at the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Heart Rhythm Center, explained that the heart has an electrical system that serves as a timing mechanism. It tells the heart when to pump and how fast. Kevin Thomas is an electrophysiologist with the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Heart Rhythm Center.
  • He told Healthline that an arrhythmia is caused by the electrical system acting irregularly.
  • Arrhythmias affect people of any age and are triggered by genetics and pre-existing conditions in the heart, as well as lifestyle habits like smoking, poor diet, and stress.
  • The significance of arrhythmias depends on the type of abnormal rhythm that is present. Thomas said that some arrhythmias are dangerous and can be fatal if they are not treated. Others are less serious but still cause concern.
  • The most common type of arrhythmia is AFib, or atrial fibrillation (also known as AFib).
  • Gulati explained that AFib, or irregular heartbeat, can lead to strokes, heart failure, and other complications.
  • According to a Trusted Source in Circulation by the American Heart Association, one in four men and women aged over 40 have a lifetime risk of AFib.

What are the symptoms associated with heart arrhythmias?

  • Thomas explained that while arrhythmias present with different symptoms, the most common ones are:
              • Heart palpitations
              • Racing heartbeats
              • Heart fluttering
              • The feeling of missing beats
  • Extra beats
              • Hard Beats
  • He said that some arrhythmias can be “silent” and show no symptoms.
  • AHATrusted source reports the following symptoms when arrhythmias, including AFib, last long enough to impact how well the heart functions:
              • Fatigue or weakness
              • Lightheadedness or dizziness
              • Fainting or near-fainting spells
              • Heart pounding or rapid heartbeat
              • Shortness of breath, anxiety
              • Chest pressure or pain
              • Heart rate alternating between fast and slow
              • Sweating
              • In extreme cases, collapse and sudden heart arrest may occur.
  • Gulati says that arrhythmia symptoms can be unpredictable and come and go.
  • She said that sometimes, when a patient comes to the doctor after experiencing a heart symptom or makes an appointment, the symptoms have subsided by the time the patient speaks with the doctor.
  • It can be difficult for doctors and frightening for patients to know what’s happening when patients no longer present with symptoms.
  • Gulati said that the use of personal digital tools can be used to break the cycle. These tools allow patients to have access to accurate and real-time data about their heart at any time, anywhere.
  • She has partnered with AliveCor, which offers KardiaMobile a personal Electrocardiogram (ECG), a device that allows users to share their findings digitally with their doctors.

What is heart palpitations?

  • Heart palpitations can be described as abnormalities in heartbeats that are felt (perceived) by a sensation of irregular or fast heartbeats.
  • Thomas said that the symptoms can either be temporary and transient, lasting a few moments, or persistent and lasting for several hours or even days.
  • Stress, anxiety, hormonal fluctuations, and stimulants such as caffeine can cause palpitations.
  • Gulati said that heart palpitations alone are not always alarming. If you have heart palpitations and chest pain or fainting, seek medical attention immediately.

What causes heart arrhythmias

  • A variety of causes can cause heart arrhythmias.
  • Thomas explained that some of the conditions are caused by abnormal or extra electrical paths that are present at birth. In contrast, others result from damage to the electrical system and heart as a result of a heart attack.
  • He said that arrhythmias are sometimes triggered by an increase in adrenaline, which is seen when undergoing surgery or being ill.
  • The heart changes as we age.
  • Gulati explained that “these age-related changes can affect our heart’s operation and electrical impulses flowing through our cardiovascular system.”
  • Thomas explained that some arrhythmias, such as AFib, become more common with age and are influenced by conditions like hypertension, diabetes, sleep disorders, and obesity.
  • Gulati said that while lifestyle choices may influence health in general, managing congenital and genetic factors, as well as aging, often requires an individualized and multifaceted approach.
  • The more proactive you can be about heart health, the better. She said that regular checkups and monitoring could help identify and manage the factors.

What is arrhythmia treatment?

  • Most arrhythmias do not cause concern, and they are usually left untreated. However, your doctor must determine whether the arrhythmia should be treated.
    • Gulati said that early detection of arrhythmias and treatment can have a significant impact on the long-term outcome and reduce the risk for complications such as stroke and heart failure.


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