How Do You Diagnose Cardiac Arrhythmias?

Filed Under: Heart Health, Arrhythmia, Diagnostic Tools, Q&As

How Do You Diagnose Cardiac Arrhythmias?

I have been having a problem with a fast and skipping pulse. It comes out of nowhere, with seemingly no rhyme or reason, and it has lasted for up to seven hours. My blood pressure is lower than normal (100/65), and my pulse is 135.

A rapid and irregular heartbeat is, in fact, a common occurrence. It’s also a clinically significant one. You may have a cardiac arrhythmia, which is a potentially serious disturbance of your heart’s natural rhythm. It’s imperative that you see a doctor who can accurately assess the problem, because lower blood pressure and a rapid heart rate can negatively affect both your heart and your brain. An evaluation by a cardiologist would be ideal, but it’s also okay to begin with your primary care physician.

Heart testing should begin with a baseline electrocardiogram (EKG) and a Holter monitor evaluation. These are basic, noninvasive heart tests typically covered by insurance. If you’ve never had a Holter evaluation, you can think of it as a 24-hour EKG. You’ll be asked to wear several adhesive electrode pads on your chest, and wires will connect the pads to a small recorder worn on a belt or in a sling. At the same time, you will be asked to keep a diary of your activities and any symptoms you feel. Document your blood pressure periodically as well.

Your doctor will then analyze your heart’s rhythm to determine the specific type of problem you have. Appropriate treatment proceeds from there.

Common Underlying Causes of Cardiac Arrhythmias

  • Menopause, when hormone levels drop
  • Sensitivity to caffeine
  • Excess sugar intake, which causes fluctuations in insulin and adrenaline
  • Alcohol,
  • Everyday stress
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Any category of heart disease, including heart attack, hypertension and angina

Cardiac arrhythmias also can occur as a natural part of aging or if there has been enlargement of the upper chambers of the heart. Medication may be necessary. But regardless of what the issue turns out to be, I recommend staying away from sugar, and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol. And, as always, watch your stress level.

Learn More From Dr. Sinatra

DISCLAIMER: The content of is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are "generally informational" and not specifically applicable to any individual's medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

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