Return to index
An abnormal heart rhythm – rapid, slow and/or irregular – that is caused by disturbance in the heart’s electrical conduction system. Symptoms include: palpitations, breathlessness, light–headedness, dizziness or blackout, chest pain, angina. Rarely, some types of arrhythmia cause sudden death.
Age (years) Heart rate (beats/min)
Types of arrhythmia include:
Atrial fibrillation (AF) The most common heart rhythm disturbance. AF affects about 10% of people over 65 years of age. The ventricles contract irregularly, and the atrial muscles flicker; blood pools in the atria, creating a risk of clot formation that predisposes to stroke. Persistent AF is managed with anticoagulation therapy.
AF Association https://www.heartrhythmalliance.org/afa/uk/
British Heart Foundation Atrial Fibrillation https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/atrial-fibrillation
NICE NG196. Atrial fibrillation: diagnosis and management, June 2014 https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng196
Practice Nurse featured articles
Masterclass: Stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation Beverley Bostock-Cox