3 reasons to pay attention to an irregular heartbeat

Approximately 14 million people in the U.S. have an irregular heartbeat, also known as an arrhythmia. Heart arrhythmias are very common and are usually harmless. However, certain arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation, may produce pooling and clotting of the blood which can damage the brain, lungs and other organs, if not treated appropriately.

“Serious cardiac arrhythmias may first manifest through adverse events such as a stroke even before a diagnosis is made,” says Michael Mirro, Chief Academic-Research Officer Parkview Research-Innovation Center.  “A patient that is experiencing symptoms like palpitations or faintness should see a physician immediately. It is important to remember that prevention is key. If you have a cardiac rhythm disturbance, understand your treatment options and take steps to live a healthier lifestyle, including eating heart healthy foods, exercising regularly and minimizing stress.”

Early detection of arrhythmia is important to reduce unnecessary medical visits and prevent serious complications, such as heart failure or stroke. In fact, there are three things that people do not realize about arrhythmia, according to a survey sponsored by the National Stroke Association. These include:

*Less than half of Americans are aware that arrhythmias may increase their risk for stroke.

*Only 17 percent of Americans are aware that atrial fibrillation increases the risk for stroke by five.

*Atrial fibrillation is believed to be a common underlying cause of the approximately 30 percent of strokes with no known cause.

In observance of Stroke Awareness Month in May, it’s important to understand the causes and potential warning signs of a stroke. To diagnose an arrhythmia, a physician will typically conduct a physical examination, including heart-monitoring tests. Traditional methods include an electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure the timing and duration of each electrical signal of the heart. Holter monitors are portable ECG devices that can be worn for a day or more to record heart activity. However, Holter monitors are restricted in their ability to identify arrhythmias because they capture only limited heartbeat information.

More advanced technologies, such as continuous cardiac monitors, provide long-term recording and storage of the heart’s electrical activity. This is essential to detecting and documenting potential arrhythmias, which can sometimes occur infrequently and without symptoms. These devices, such as iRhythm’s ZIO (R) Service, stores beat-to-beat heart rhythm data in its entirety, which can provide a more complete picture to a healthcare provider. Analysis of the beat-to-beat data allows for a faster more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, the high diagnostic yield potentially eliminates the need for furthering testing, leading to reduced healthcare costs.

Talk to your doctor or visit www.irhythmtech.com today to learn more about stroke and continuous cardiac monitoring.

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