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What is arrhythmia? Are arrhythmias life threatening?

An arrhythmia is any abnormal heart rhythm. Most people are familiar with the concept that the heart is a pump, but may not be aware that it also contains an electrical system. This electrical system generates the heart rhythm and carries the signal to beat through the heart. Specialized “pacemaker” heart cells have the ability to generate a heart rhythm.

Some arrhythmias are life-threatening and may cause sudden death. These dangerous arrhythmias usually originate in the ventricles (the two main pumping chambers of the heart). Other arrhythmias can be quite harmless. It is a group of disorders with considerable variation in health effects and treatment options.  Red flags include personal or family history of abnormal heart rhythms, sudden death, or fainting- especially with exercise. Arrhythmia treatment has evolved tremendously in just the last two decades.

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