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Almost all heart tissue is capable of starting a heartbeat, or becoming the "pacemaker.” An arrhythmia may occur when the heart's natural pacemaker (the sinus node) develops an abnormal rate or rhythm.
Some arrhythmias are benign (not dangerous), while others may be life threatening. There are different ways of classifying arrhythmias, which can be described based on where within the heart the arrhythmia originates (that is, in the atria or top chambers of the heart, or in the ventricles or bottom chambers of the heart), or whether the arrhythmia is related to the heart beat being too fast (tachyarrhythmia), too slow (bradyarrhythmia), and whether the beat is regular or irregular (fibrillation).
An atrial arrhythmia is an abnormality that occurs in one of the two upper chambers of the heart, the left or right atrium. It is caused by abnormal function of the sinus node or the atrioventricular node.
Types atrial arrhythmias include:
A ventricular arrhythmia occurs in the two lower chambers of the heart called the ventricles. It is caused by an interruption in the electrical conduction pathways, or the development of another area within the heart tissue that takes over the function of the sinus node.
Types ventricular arrhythmias include:
Arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, can cause problems with contractions of the heart chambers. This can show up in two ways:
The following are some common symptoms of arrhythmia:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”