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by Polsdorfer R

Causes of Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)

Arrhythmias occur when there is a disruption in how the electrical signal develops or moves throughout the heart. Factors that can cause arrhythmias include:
  • The heart's natural pacemaker (sinoatrial node) develops an abnormal rate or rhythm.
  • Injury or illness makes it difficult or impossible for electrical signals to move through the heart. Injury or illness may occur due to:
  • Electrical stimulation arises from abnormal areas of the heart, other than the sinoatrial node.
  • Stimulants—Make the heart beat faster even though there is no need.
  • Electrolyte abnormalities—Can increase or decrease the ability for muscles to contract and change ability of nerves to send signals.
External factors that are associated with arrhythmias include:
  • Stress
  • Caffeine
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Controlled substances, such as cocaine and amphetamines
  • Diet pills
  • Some over-the-counter medications, such as cough and cold remedies
  • Certain prescription medications, such as those that treat cardiovascular disease, asthma , depression , or thyroid disorders.


Symptoms, diagnosis & monitoring of arrhythmia. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/SymptomsDiagnosisMonitoringofArrhythmia/Symptoms-Diagnosis-Monitoring-of-Arrhythmia%5FUCM%5F002025%5FArticle.jsp#. Updated September 19, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2017.
Understand your risk for arrhythmia. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/UnderstandYourRiskforArrhythmia/Understand-Your-Risk-for-Arrhythmia%5FUCM%5F002024%5FArticle.jsp#.WTAaIOvytQJ. Updated December 21, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2017.
What causes an arrhythmia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/causes. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed June 1, 2017.

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