Cardiac arrhythmias and exercise.

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NB: The following information is given in good faith, but should not be construed as a definitive guide to heart problems. If you think there is any possibility that you are having a heart attack, consult a qualified medical practitioner immediately!

Cardiac Arrhythmias and Exercise.

Cardiac arrhythmias or dysrhythmia can disrupt an exercise and fitness regime. It occurs where there is unusual electrical activity in the heart. This can result in unusual sensations such as irregular beats or palpitations. Some cardiac arrhythmias can cause mild discomfort, while others can be life threatening.

In some cases cardiac arrhythmia can cause the heart to beat so slowly or irregularly that there is a poor supply of blood to vital organs. In this case, fainting may occur. Injury may occur when the person falls, so if someone is showing signs of fainting, they should be guided to a sitting or laying position carefully.

It is important that when someone feels light headed or faint during exercise, abnormality in their heart performance is considered as an option for investigation.

Treatments for Cardiac Arrhythmias and Their Effect on Ability to Exercise.

Miocardial infarction tests showing heart attack or MI. One of the main tools in treating cardiac arrhythmia is the use of antiarrhythmic drugs that control the movement of sodium, potassium and calcium in and out of cells, and controls electrical activity in the cardiac cells (Eckart et al. 2008).

Anticoagulants such as Warfarin, Asprin or Plavix (Clopidogrol) can be prescribed to prevent possible embolism or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

Plavix and Asprin are antiplatelet drugs, and are used to reduce platelet aggregation and the risk of thrombosis. The use of anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs can result in bleeding into soft tissue, or bruising, and exercise which may result in trauma, such as contact sports, should be avoided.

Digoxin could be used to strengthen, slow and stabilise the heart beat.

Cardioversion, or D C Conversion can be used to revert the heartbeat to its normal sinus rhythm. A pacemaker could also possibly be inserted to regulate the heartbeat.

Research has shown that patients who have arrythmias on exercise have a slightly higher chance of death occurring (Eckart et al. 2008). Flecainide can be used to prevent exercise induced arrhythmia (Knollmann 2008).
Obel and Davidson (2005) found that de-training for a period may be useful in long term correction of arrythmia.

References for Cardiac Arrhythmia

Type of Exercise-Induced Arrhythmia on Exercise Test and Risk for Death
R.E. Eckart, M.E. Field, T.W. Hruczkowski, D.E. Forman, S. Dorbala, M.F. Di Carli, C.E. Albert, W.H. Maisel, L.M. Epstein, and W.G. Stevenson.
7 October 2008 | Volume 149 Issue 7 | Page I-22

Drug to prevent exercise-induced arrhythmias identified
Bjorn Knollmann
Nature Medicine. (ANI) 2008

Arrhythmias in an athlete: the effect of de-training
O A Obel and C Davidson
Postgraduate Medical Journal 2005;81:62-64


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