Cardiac rhythm refers to the pattern of electrical impulses that control the heartbeat. The heart’s electrical system is responsible for the coordinated contraction and relaxation of its chambers, which allows for the efficient pumping of blood throughout the body.
The normal cardiac rhythm is known as sinus rhythm, which is generated by the sinoatrial (SA) node in the right atrium. In this rhythm, the heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, and the atria contract first followed by the ventricles.
However, various conditions can cause changes in the cardiac rhythm. For example, tachycardia refers to a faster-than-normal heart rate, while bradycardia refers to a slower-than-normal heart rate. Arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms, can manifest as irregular beats or a pattern of beats that are too fast or too slow.
Abnormal cardiac rhythms can be caused by various factors, including heart disease, electrolyte imbalances, medication side effects, and stress. Diagnosis typically involves an electrocardiogram (ECG), which records the electrical activity of the heart.
Treatment options for abnormal cardiac rhythms depend on the specific condition and may include medications, electrical cardioversion, or implantation of a pacemaker or defibrillator. In some cases, lifestyle modifications, such as reducing stress or avoiding stimulants like caffeine, can help manage the condition.