What are the most common heart rhythm disorders?

Written by: Dr Syed Ahsan
Edited by: Jay Staniland

Heart rhythm disorders are any disorder which causes your heart to beat abnormally. By far and away, the most common disorder that we see is a condition called ventricular ectopic. Everybody has these extra heart beats, which originate from the bottom of the heart, but some people have them more than usual. While some people are particularly symptomatic when they have these beats. Ectopics are often precipitated by alcohol, caffeine, stress, or lack of sleep, so simple lifestyle modifications are often all that is needed. But if you’re worried, you should consult your cardiologist or electrophysiologist.


Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)


Other common heart rhythm disorders that are often seen are conditions called supraventricular tachycardia or SVT for short. These are fast, regular rhythms originating from the top of the heart. By and large, they’re not dangerous but because your heart is racing, it can really make patients feel unwell.

The unpredictable nature of SVTs means that they can come anytime and often patients may be woken from their sleep or suffer the symptoms of a racing heart after a meal.

Nowadays, SVTs can be treated very safely and effectively by a procedure called an ablation, which involves passing fine wires from the top of the leg into the heart and removing the abnormal trigger.


Atrial flutter


The third condition is a condition called atrial flutter. This is a fast, regular rhythm coming from the top side of the heart which again is more common in patients with structural heart disease and is easily treated by ablation.


Atrial fibrillation


Finally, atrial fibrillation is probably one of the most common heart rhythm disorders that is seen. This is an irregular, chaotic heart rhythm which can lead to an irregular pulse, and increase the risk of stroke.

Treatment options for atrial fibrillation include reducing your risk of stroke by using blood thinners called anticoagulants which are medications to control your heart rate and rhythm. Another treatment is cardioversion, where an electrical shock sends your heart back to a normal rhythm, and finally an ablation treatment which involves removing the abnormal triggers for atrial fibrillation with high frequency energy or by freezing.

If you are concerned about your heart rhythm, make an appointment with a cardiologist here.

By Dr Syed Ahsan

Dr Syed Ahsan is a leading cardiologist based in London who has won and been nominated for many awards in his field. Having trained in various prestigious centres in London, Dr Ahsan is highly experienced in all areas of cardiology with a specialist interest in heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias).  He also sees patients with collapse, chest pains, shortness of breath and high blood pressure. 

His NHS practice is based at Barts Heart Centre, one of the largest cardiac units in Europe, where Dr Ahsan is one of the lead clinicians for atrial fibrillation (AF). He perfoms catheter ablation procedures for AF and other heart rhythm disorders and is an expert in implanting all kinds of cardiac devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators and resynchronisation devices. Dr Ahsan is known for his patient-centred approach, ensuring that his patients are always fully aware and comfortable with the consultation and treatment process. From his clinics across London, Dr Ahsan offers treatment for all aspects of adult cardiology and heart rhythm disorders. 

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