Archive for the ‘Dysrhythmias’ Category
The human heart is composed of four chambers; the upper chambers being the atria, the lower the ventricles. The left ventricle is the true “power station” of the heart. It is part of the muscle that uses the most force when circulating blood throughout the body.
The heart muscle also generates electrical impulses that allow for the expansion and contraction of the heart, which is exactly what aids in a person’s circulation. However; occasionally, the electric impulses of the heart misfire and lead to various dysrhythmias of the heart. These dysrhythmias can affect both the atria and ventricles, as well as the junction of the heart which includes the Purkinjie fibers that are themselves responsible for those very electrical impulses.
There are varying degrees of seriousness in regards to a heart dysrhythmia, ranging from mild and common sinus arrythmia, which is a change in heart in response to the breathing cycle, to supraventricular tachycardia, which is what is termed in medicine as an “agonal rhythm–”this term being basically synonymous with: “a dying heart.”
When speaking of a dying heart, it is a common misconception that a heart can be “restarted” when shocked by the device known as a “defibrillator.” When a heart is no longer generating electrical impulses it is classified as a “flat-line,” or, technically, “asystole.” An asystolic heart cannot be restarted; though, if the heart is experiencing what is known as a “shockable rhythm,” (in most cases ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, or torsades de points) it is possible that a heart may successfully receive a shock that resets its rhythm to that of Normal Sinus Rhythm or NSR.
When a technician, doctor or nurse interprets a heart rhythm they are able to tell quite a bit about their patients. There are cues on everything from whether the patient is a smoker, to whether or not the patient may be deficient in, or have a surplus of electrolytes such as potassium or calcium. All of this information can be communicated in a six second strip of the patient’s heart rhythm. Whether by the less complicated three lead (sensor) ECG, to the complex 12 lead ECG, an admirable portion of a patient’s general and cardiac health can be gauged. In this way any of the varying dysrhthmias can be detected and treated before they evolve in to the agonal and catastrophic rhythms.