Arrhythmia: Overview

Modified on 2009/10/14 21:42 by admin
An arrhythmia is an abnormal heartbeat. The heartbeat is controlled by an electrical signal that lets the heart muscle know when to contract and relax. The expanding and contracting heart brings blood into and out of the heart, thereby distributing the blood to other areas of the body.

The electrical signal that triggers the heartbeat is usually generated on the right side of the heart. Thus the right side of the heart is called the "pacemaker," as it controls the pace at which the heart beats. This electrical signal then travels from the pacemaker throughout the heart, thus causing the beat.

An arrhythmia can occur when the pacemaker is disrupted, when another part of the heart (other than the right side) acts as the pacemaker, or when the path that the electrical signal travels upon is disturbed. Such disruption of the heartbeat can occur when the QT interval increases. The QT interval measures the time it takes the heart muscle to contract and relax. An increased QT interval that results in an arrhythmia can cause sudden death.

See Also

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