An abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) is any variation in the normal heartbeat. Abnormal heartbeats occur when the heart has an irregular heart rhythm, beats too fast (tachycardia), or beats too slow (bradycardia).
The electrical system of the heart creates signals that trigger the heart to pump. These electrical signals control the heart rate and rhythm. Normally, the heart beats in a regular rhythm and at a rate that is appropriate for the work the body is doing. An arrhythmia results from a problem in the electrical system of the heart.
Many arrhythmias are minor, causing only occasional abnormal heartbeats and requiring no treatment. If an arrhythmia needs treatment, options may include medicines, an electrical shock (cardioversion), a cardiac device such as a pacemaker, or ablation.
Current as of: January 10, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology