man feeling ill

Gretchen Heuring

Heart Rhythm Disorders

By | 08.01.2014


It's called a "disorder" but that doesn't necessarily mean you're in trouble.


Abnormal heart rhythms (also called arrhythmias) are caused by problems with the electrical system that regulates the steady rhythmic beat of the heart. The heartbeat may be too slow or too fast or it may become chaotic. Some are dangerous but others are simply bothersome and are not life threatening. Always best to talk to your doctor just in case.


Slow Rhythm Disorders

Slow Rhythms are more common among older people. The heartbeat may slow down becasue of heart disease or for no known reason at all. The effect can be fatigue, confusion or fainting. The most widely used and successful treatment is a pacemaker.


Fast Rhythm Disorders

A rapid heartbeat or fluttering feeling can mean nothing at all or it can be very serious. It depends on which part of the heart it comes from and should always be checked out with a doctor.


Atrial fibrillation affects quite a few older people and is not dangerous. Sometimes a mild electrical shock is used to get the heart's electrical system behaving properly, but usually Atrial fibrillation can be controlled with medication.


Ventricular arrhythmia could be more serious and sometimes accompanies a heart attack or heart failure. Medications can control this disease and sometimes an internal device is implanted to shock the heart if a dangerous arrhythmia occurs.


Rhythm Risk

The greatest concern about any sort of long-lasting heart rhythm disorder is the possibility of blood clots and stroke. So see a cardiologist if you are worried.

From TED Talks, How Meditation Can Help Your Heart

When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in uncomfortable positions.) You will be glad you watched this video.



Heart Rhythm Soceity Logo

Find A Specialist


A heart rhythm specialist is called an Electrophysiologist (e-lec-tro-fizz-ee-olo-gist.) The members of the Heart Rhythm Society are physicians who specialize in heart rhythm disorders. The Society has an online searchable directory so you can find a specialist near you.



gordon brunson

Gordon Brunson and

his great-grandchildren

Photo by Phyllis Dwyer


PaceMaker Improves

Quality of Life

Gordon Brunson received a pacemaker at the age of 97. He is still enjoying life at age 101. Read his story by his daughter, Phyllis Dwyer.




Heart 411 DVD

As Shown By PBS

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Hiker Holding Onto Tree

Gretchen Heuring

Stress Causes Palpitations

By | 08.03.2014

I've been out there reading the blogs and I've learned the most interesting things about heart rhythm disorders (palpitations.)


The biggest issue for all of us is which unusual heart thumps are a passing thing and which are serious. The "ordinary-type" palpitations can be caused by too much caffeine, stressful worrying, or sometimes nothing at all. The "serious-type" heart rhythm problems can be atrial fibrillation leading to a heart attack or other problems needing medical attention.


Everyone says, "tell your doctor," and I will add to that, don't be surprised if she advises that you are perfectly fine. It's really alright to go to a doctor and discover that you are in good health.


The New York Times "Well" Blog: Nocholas Bakalar reports on a 2014 study by Dutch researchers following 8,423 persons with an average age of 69. The researchers discovered that Nsaids (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) increased the risk of atrial fibrillation by eight percent.


The WebMD "Heart Beat" Blog: Dr. James Beckeman reports on new guidelines by the American College of Cardiology. He says, "The hope is that we can help prevent heart disease in more people by treating people according to their risk, rather than by treating by LDL (bad cholesterol) alone. That’s the major shift of the new guidelines."


Dr. Beckeman goes on to say, "So what does all of this mean for you? It means that it’s time to learn more about your risk. Numbers like LDL, blood pressure, and BMI may all play a role, but your overall cardiovascular risk includes other variables as well, from your genes to your jeans size, from how much time you spend on your feet to how you use your fork. Unfortunately our risk calculators tend not to take our diets and exercise patterns into consideration, but these are critical aspects of your risk profile and shouldn’t be overlooked."


The Fletcher Allen "HealthSource" Blog: Dr. Fletcher Allen discusses the different kinds of heart doctors. He says, "Heart doctors (cardiologists) come in two flavors: plumbers and electricians. Electrophysiologists (the electricians) treat heart rhythm disorders."


The "HeartSisters" Blog: Carolyn Thomas has developed this terrific blog. She says, "Here’s my theory: few health crises in life are as traumatic as surviving a cardiac event. I developed this theory while I was busy having my own heart attack in the spring of 2008."