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Arrhythmia

An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. It means that your heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. When the heart beats faster than normal, it is called tachycardia. When the heart beats too slowly, it is called bradycardia. The most common type of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation, which causes an irregular and fast heart beat.

Many factors can affect your heart's rhythm, such as having had a heart attack, smoking, congenital heart defects, and stress. Some substances or medicines may also cause arrhythmias.

Symptoms of arrhythmias include

  • Fast or slow heart beat
  • Skipping beats
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating

Your doctor can run tests to find out if you have an arrhythmia. Treatment to restore a normal heart rhythm may include medicines, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) or pacemaker, or sometimes surgery.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Angina

Angina is chest pain or discomfort you feel when there is not enough blood flow to your heart muscle. Your heart muscle needs the oxygen that the blood carries. Angina may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest. It may feel like indigestion. You may also feel pain in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.

Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common heart disease. CAD happens when a sticky substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, reducing blood flow.

There are three types of angina:

  • Stable angina is the most common type. It happens when the heart is working harder than usual. Stable angina has a regular pattern. Rest and medicines usually help.
  • Unstable angina is the most dangerous. It does not follow a pattern and can happen without physical exertion. It does not go away with rest or medicine. It is a sign that you could have a heart attack soon.
  • Variant angina is rare. It happens when you are resting. Medicines can help.

Not all chest pain or discomfort is angina. If you have chest pain, you should see your health care provider.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Atrial Fibrillation

An arrhythmia is a problem with the speed or rhythm of the heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of arrhythmia. The cause is a disorder in the heart's electrical system.

Often, people who have AF may not even feel symptoms. But you may feel

  • Palpitations -- an abnormal rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or difficulty exercising
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

AF can lead to an increased risk of stroke. In many patients, it can also cause chest pain, heart attack, or heart failure.

Doctors diagnose AF using family and medical history, a physical exam, and a test called an electrocardiogram (EKG), which looks at the electrical waves your heart makes. Treatments include medicines and procedures to restore normal rhythm.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Lead Poisoning

Lead is a metal that occurs naturally in the earth's crust. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment. Much of it comes from human activities such as mining and manufacturing. Lead used to be in paint; older houses may still have lead paint. You could be exposed to lead by

  • Eating food or drinking water that contains lead. Water pipes in older homes may contain lead.
  • Working in a job where lead is used
  • Using lead in a hobby, such as making stained glass or lead-glazed pottery
  • Using folk remedies such as herbs or foods that contain lead

Breathing air, drinking water, eating food, or swallowing or touching dirt that contains lead can cause many health problems. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. In adults, lead can increase blood pressure and cause infertility, nerve disorders, and muscle and joint pain. It can also make you irritable and affect your ability to concentrate and remember.

Lead is especially dangerous for children. A child who swallows large amounts of lead may develop anemia, severe stomachache, muscle weakness, and brain damage. Even at low levels, lead can affect a child's mental and physical growth.

Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry

Pain

Pain is a signal in your nervous system that something may be wrong. It is an unpleasant feeling, such as a prick, tingle, sting, burn, or ache. Pain may be sharp or dull. It may come and go, or it may be constant. You may feel pain in one area of your body, such as your back, abdomen, chest, pelvis, or you may feel pain all over.

Pain can be helpful in diagnosing a problem. If you never felt pain, you might seriously hurt yourself without knowing it, or you might not realize you have a medical problem that needs treatment.

There are two types of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain usually comes on suddenly, because of a disease, injury, or inflammation. It can often be diagnosed and treated. It usually goes away, though sometimes it can turn into chronic pain. Chronic pain lasts for a long time, and can cause severe problems.

Pain is not always curable, but there are many ways to treat it. Treatment depends on the cause and type of pain. There are drug treatments, including pain relievers. There are also non-drug treatments, such as acupuncture, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke