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An irregular heartbeat, in simple terms, means that your heart isn’t beating with its usual, steady rhythm. Instead of the typical “thump-thump,” it might feel slightly like a skip, flutter, or extra beat. While sometimes it’s just a temporary hiccup, in certain cases, it can be a sign of an underlying issue that needs attention.

What Is the Most Common Cause of Irregular Heartbeat?

The unsteady heartbeat is most commonly associated with electrical signaling in the heart. This condition is called atrial fibrillation, where the heart’s upper chambers (atria) beat irregularly and disrupt the usual heart rhythm. Some other causes include:

  • Heart valve disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Medical conditions (thyroid and diabetes)

How Serious Is an Irregular Heartbeat?

In some cases, an irregular heartbeat can be a benign and temporary condition; in others, it can be a symptom of a more serious heart-related issue. The following are some considerations:

  • Benign Arrhythmias: Certain arrhythmias, such as premature atrial or ventricular contractions, can be harmless and not cause significant health concerns.
  • Atrial Fibrillation: A more serious form of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation (AFib), which can lead to an increased risk of stroke and other cardiovascular complications.
  • Underlying Heart Conditions: An irregular heartbeat associated with underlying heart conditions, such as heart disease or heart failure, can trigger a higher risk of complications.

Irregular Heartbeat Symptoms

Symptoms of an irregular heartbeat depend on the type of arrhythmia and its severity. Some of them are:

  • Palpitations: Feel like your heart flutters, pounds, or beats irregularly.
  • Rapid Heartbeat (Tachycardia): A faster heart rate than normal.
  • Slow Heartbeat (Bradycardia): A slower heart rate than normal.
  • Chest Discomfort: This can feel like discomfort, pressure, or pain in the chest.
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness: Feeling faint or dizzy.
  • Fainting (Syncope): Loss of consciousness can occur in severe cases.
  • Shortness of Breath: Difficulty breathing or a sensation of breathlessness.
  • Fatigue: Unexplained tiredness or weakness.
  • Sweating: Excessive sweating, especially if not associated with physical activity.

When should you visit Urgent Care for an irregular heartbeat?

When your arrhythmia is accompanied by symptoms like palpitations, dizziness, fast heart rate, fainting, or discomfort, it becomes necessary to visit urgent care. The urgent care centers can provide a same-day diagnosis for health issues. It makes it easier for healthcare professionals to treat your condition. However, you must not avoid the following symptoms:

  • Mild Symptoms: Urgent care can offer an initial assessment if you have mild symptoms and are unclear about the cause.
  • Known Condition: You can consider visiting emergency care if you already have an arrhythmia. Any change of the symptoms requires immediate medical attention.

However, you must not wait for a cardiac event to occur. Call your nearest emergency room if you have chest pain, breathing difficulty, loss of consciousness, or continuously fast heart rate.

Concluding Thoughts

Our heartbeat fluctuates daily due to physical activities and even dehydration. However, when should I be worried about irregular heartbeat? This is something you should know. This will help you keep your cardiac health at its best.

If you often struggle with keeping your heartbeat steady. Visit our urgent care at Family Diagnostic Clinic for an assessment. Call us at (281) 351-6800 to book an appointment.

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