Arrhythmias: How are they managed?

Most forms of arrhythmias are considered harmless and do not require treatment. If an individual is detected with an arrhythmia, the doctor will determine if it is abnormal or simply reflects the normal processes of the heart.

The doctor will also assess if the arrhythmia is clinically significant, whether it triggers symptoms or puts the individual at risk for serious arrhythmias or complications in the future.

Management of arrhythmias

The objectives in managing arrhythmias include the following:


If an individual has certain forms of arrhythmias, there is an increased risk for cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke.

  • Prevention of blood clots to lower the risk for stroke especially among individuals with atrial fibrillation (AFib).
  • Maintain the heart rate within a relatively normal range.
  • Restore the normal heart rhythm if possible.
  • Treat any heart conditions that might be the root of the arrhythmia.
  • Minimize other risk factors for heart disease and stroke


  • All the medications prescribed by the doctor must be taken as directed.
  • Do not stop using any prescribed medications without consulting a doctor first.
  • If any side effects arise, inform the doctor.
  • The doctor should be informed of other medications and supplements being taken including over-the-counter medications as well as vitamins.

Heart rate monitoring

The individual should know how to take his/her pulse especially if an artificial pacemaker is in place.

  • Place the 2nd and 3rd fingers of one hand on the interior of the wrist of the other hand, right beneath the thumb or on the side of the neck, beneath the corner of the jaw.
  • Feel for a pulse.
  • Count the number of beats felt in one full minute
  • Note down the pulse along with the day and time taken as well as how the individual felt.

What are the contributing factors to erratic or abnormal heartbeat?

  • Tobacco
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Appetite suppressants
  • Cold and cough medications
  • Antiarrhythmics
  • Psychotropic drugs (used for some mental ailments)
  • Beta-blockers for high blood pressure
  • Prohibited drugs such as marijuana, cocaine or methamphetamines

How to manage the risk factors

If an individual has certain forms of arrhythmias, there is an increased risk for cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke. The recommended measures to control the other risk factors include:

  • Control the blood pressure level
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
  • Control the cholesterol level
  • Cut down excess weight
  • Avoid tobacco smoke
  • Regular physical activity or exercise