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A heart rhythm problem, or arrhythmia, is a change in the normal rhythm of your heart. Your heart may beat too fast or too slow or beat with an irregular or skipping rhythm. A change in the heart's rhythm may feel like a really strong heartbeat or a fluttering in your chest. A severe heart rhythm problem can keep the body from getting the blood it needs. This can cause shortness of breath, light-headedness, and fainting. A heart rhythm problem can make your heart failure worse and increase your chance of dying suddenly.
You may take medicine to treat your condition. Your doctor may recommend a pacemaker, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), or a procedure called catheter ablation to destroy small parts of the heart that are causing a rhythm problem.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you develop new symptoms.
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Current as of: September 7, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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