Pacemakers: Missing the beat:What causes arrhythmias? What causes arrhythmias? What causes arrhythmias? What causes arrhythmias?

A patient with arrhythmias may experience a number of symptoms, including an irregular heartbeat, an occasional forceful or rapid beat, a feeling of lightheadedness or actual fainting. Pacemakers represent one extreme end of a whole spectrum of treatments for arrhythmias. Typically, these can include anything from simple reassurance and suggestions for lifestyle modifications (see box, p 4) to drugs and various implantable devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators.

Treatment options should be based on what causes the arrhythmia in the first place – for instance:
* Stimulants, such as caffeine, tobacco and alcohol, can interfere with the coordinated beating of the heart muscle, often causing extra beats
* Recreational drugs, like cocaine, which can make the heartbeat fatally fast in some instances
* An overactive thyroid gland, which can cause certain rhythm disturbances
* Certain prescribed and over-the-counter medications
* An acute heart attack, which is also a common cause of fatal arrhythmias. Indeed, it is not entirely clear whether arrhythmias are the risk factor for heart failure or whether heart failure can lead to fatal arrhythmias.

What Doctors Don't Tell You Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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