Irregular Heartbeat: What You Need to Know About Arrhythmia.

In conjunction with World Heart Day, FMT Lifestyle interviews Dr Navin Sukilan and Dr Koh Kok Wei regarding this heart-related cardiac condition.

Heart Attack | Learn about Arrhythmia

Rapid fluttering in the chest may be a sign of heart arrhythmia.

Recognising the Symptoms of Arrhythmia

Do you often experience heart palpitations or a rapid fluttering in your chest? Have you felt dizzy, short of breath, or giddy along with these symptoms? If this sounds familiar, it's important to see your doctor, as these could be signs of heart arrhythmia.

Understanding of Heart Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia is a condition where the heartbeat is irregular, either too slow, too fast, or irregular pattern. This condition is often linked to heart problems like coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, and heart failure. These conditions can make it harder for your heart to maintain a normal heart rhythm, leading to arrhythmia. If left untreated, arrhythmia can cause serious health issues, so it's important to see a doctor if you notice any irregularities in your heartbeat.

Heart Disease: The Leading Cause of Death in Malaysia

Heart disease, or cardiac disease, remains the number one cause of death in Malaysia, accounting for 17% of medically verified deaths nationwide in 2020. Arrhythmia, in particular, was a significant contributor to this statistic.

Globally, cases of a specific type of arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation are increasing. Last year, the Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society reported that 46.3 million people globally were affected by atrial fibrillation.

Insights from Specialists about Cardiac Arrhythmia

In conjunction with World Heart Day today, FMT Lifestyle spoke with two doctors to gain a better understanding of arrhythmia. Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC) consultant cardiologist Dr Navin Sukilan, noted a significant increase in the number of cardiovascular patients in recent years, along with a rise in co-morbidities - conditions where people suffer from more than one health issue at the same time. 

“These problems are linked to a more affluent society,” he explained. “As we move towards being a developed nation, people are eating more unhealthily and chasing higher productivity, which leads to high stress levels and lack of exercise.”

SJMC Cardiac Expert | Dr Navin

According to Dr. Navin Sukilan, individuals who are obese, suffer from high blood pressure, or have diabetes are among the groups most susceptible to arrhythmia.

What group is most at risk for Arrhythmia

According to Dr Navin Sukilan, individuals who are obese, suffer from high blood pressure, or have diabetes are among the groups most susceptible to arrhythmia. “These, in turn, lead to things like diabetes and high blood pressure, which increase the incidence of heart disease.” Arrhythmia, he said, is a serious issue as it is strongly connected to heart failure and increases the risk of stroke – two major health concerns in modern Malaysian society.

According to him, the groups most at risk for arrhythmia are those who are obese, who suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes, or who have a family history of heart problems. Additionally, people aged 65 and over, as well as individuals with certain medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, are more susceptible. 

Nevertheless, it is still important for everyone, even those not in these high-risk groups, to regularly check their heart health.

The Importance of Early Irregular Heartbeat Detection

“Some young people don’t believe they can have heart rhythm problems. This is not entirely true, as there are certain conditions, such as supraventricular tachycardia, that can present at a younger age, even in your 20s,” Navin pointed out.

He also mentioned that some individuals might attribute their heart fluttering to stress, anxiety, or a panic attack. However, Dr Navin advises these people to see a doctor to rule out other serious issues first.

On a positive note, he mentioned that awareness of heart health is increasing, partly thanks to modern technology. "We;vehad patients whose smartwatches detected issues with their heartbeats, prompting them to come in for health checks."

Preventive Measures and Treatment of Heart Disease

Dr Koh Kok Wei, a consultant cardiologist and electrophysiologic in SJMC, explained that in older individuals, coronary disease is a major cause of arrhythmia. Therefore, early detection and effective management of risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol are essential.

Early detection and effective management of risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are crucial in preventing arrhythmia. Dr Koh Kok Wei highlighted that maintaining a healthy body weight and avoiding alcohol, particularly for younger people, are important preventive measures.  Maintaining a healthy body weight and avoiding alcohol, particularly for younger people, are important preventive measures.

For treating arrhythmia, common methods include using medication and implanting devices like cardioverter defibrillators or pacemakers to regulate heart rhythms.

Dr Koh Kok Wei | SJMC Consultant Cardiologist

Delaying treatment may lead to disease progression, incurring higher costs and long-term health expenses, shared Dr Koh Kok Wei.

The Importance of Early Treatment for Arrhythmia

Some cases of arrhythmia can be treated with a procedure called catheter ablation. In this procedure, doctors use radio waves to destroy small areas of heart tissue that are causing the heart to beat too quickly or irregularly. This treatment is performed by a heart specialist called an electrophysiologist and is known for being both highly effective and minimally invasive.

The cost of treating arrhythmia can vary a lot depending on how serious the condition is and how far it has progressed. For some people, simple treatments might be enough, while others might need more complex and expensive procedures.

Thankfully, because arrhythmia is usually a condition that develops over time rather than something you're born with, many treatments are covered by health insurance.

"Most arrhythmia cases can be cured if they are diagnosed and treated early," Koh said. "But if you delay treatment, the condition can get worse, which can lead to higher medical costs and more serious long-term health problems."

This highlights why it's so important to pay attention to your heart health and seek medical advice if you notice any irregularities. Early treatment not only improves health outcomes but also helps keep treatment costs down.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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