World Heart Rhythm Week 2020: Home Care Tips For Patients Suffering From Arrhythmia

Our heart beats at an average speed. If your heartbeat becomes irregular without any reason, it can be dangerous at times, and also become fatal

Vani Malik
Written by: Vani MalikUpdated at: Jun 07, 2020 14:00 IST
World Heart Rhythm Week 2020: Home Care Tips For Patients Suffering From Arrhythmia

Usually, heartbeat increases due to various reasons, including stress, pre-existing heart problems, and it might be challenging to understand the reason. The irregularity in the heartbeat is termed as arrhythmia or a rhythm heart disorder. Arrhythmias occur when electric waves that control the heartbeat do not function properly. You may feel this condition in your chest, throat or neck when the heartbeat becomes irregular. But, the catch here is that the pandemic situation makes it all the riskier for people. It is still advised to only visit hospitals when in dire need else consult the doctors through phones, videos chats, etc. Hence, on the occasion of the World Heart Rhythm Week 2020, here are some queries resolved by Dr Vanita Arora, Director and Head Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab & Arrhythmia Services Max Saket to help arrhythmia heart patients live peacefully at home with these proper homecare tips: 

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Q: Early symptoms of arrhythmia that can one experience at home?

Dr Arora: Arrhythmia is a condition, which can happen at any time. We could divide the patients into two groups, one being those who are prone to it and already know about their condition and others who have no clue if they had a heart rhythm disorder ever in their lifetime. There are patients groups which have an ejection fraction less 30 per cent, are the patients who are prone to arrhythmia. These can e listed under the dangerous category as it can be fatal, cause life-threatening situations and most of these patients, who are already on medication for the same, actually prevent the arrhythmia from occurring. But, there is no treatment possible, which is 100 per cent safe when we talk of the heart rhythm conditions. In such cases, patients should understand their situation, follow the doctor’s brief. Symptoms may vary from palpitations, fast heartbeat, discomfort, giddiness, etc.

The other group who have never had any such problems in the past or suddenly experience a faster heartbeat will complain of:

  • Palpitations
  • There will be a thumping in the chest
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • A feeling of a weight on their chests
  • Some patients may feel reeling of head

Also Read: Arrhythmia Is Not The Only Reason For Deaths, But Sudden Fainting Is: Explains Dr Vanita Arora

Q: Immediate first aid to be taken when experiencing those symptoms?

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Dr Arora: The first and foremost that is to be done here is to lie down flat on the back. This is essential in case the BP is sinking or reducing; the best position is to lie down. Apart from that, the patient should take an extra dose of arrhythmia medication that is given to them by their doctor. This is done to prevent or break the circuit of arrhythmia, which is happening. This situation is nothing less than an emergency in patients with pre-existing heart diseases and should be immediately taken to a hospital.

I am recommending most of my patients to have an ECG recorder device at home, especially for those who have heart patients at home. These devices are extremely compact, can be used at home with the help of an app in your smartphone, and can record the ECG at home. Taking an ECG to record the arrhythmia is extremely important. Secondly, people should have a pulse oximeter at home to monitor your oxygen saturation. Along with that, it also helps you see the graph of your pulse beat. All this should be documented at home to share with your cardiologist in case of any emergency. Also, should have a BP apparatus at home to check the levels at home. If your heartbeat is 180/190 beats/minute, this means the heart is working three times more than it works in normal cases. In such circumstances, try to get your heartbeat back to normal. These steps can come in handy to break the arrhythmia:

  • Dip a cloth in ice-cold water and apply it all over your face or splash ice-cold water on your face
  • Take in a deep breath, fill your mouth with a deep breath, close mouth and nostrils and try to blow out air through the closed nostrils and closed mouth.
  • Try inducing vomiting

Q: Can lifestyle modifications help in managing the condition? Essential tips when it comes to diet and exercise for patients?

Dr Arora: Patients prone to arrhythmia can avoid certain drinks, which include tea, coffee, fizz drinks, and alcohol. Any eatables, which can cause gastritis should be avoided as acidity precipitates arrhythmia. One should turn to lighter meals over fried and spicy foods. Also, these food items can cause palpitations in many people, especially those with a weaker heart.

When we talk about exercising, we will talk about two types of patients. Firstly those who have heart conditions and secondly those who may have mild diseases or maybe just prone to them. Those who are elderly with pre-existing heart diseases, I would recommend no jogging, no vigorous exercise. But walking is something which is allowed. Social distancing wearing mask with walks is essential as basic exercises can keep your heart healthy.  Do not try and do weight lifting. I want to add that those who are too much into gymming should refrain from going to these places even now when things have started to open up. I want to add that wearing an N95 mask for walking and jogging can be catastrophic, so wear a regular mask for walking and jogging.

Q: Basic home tests that one can take to check the condition?

Dr Arora: Following are the necessary homecare tests that one can do to monitor the condition

  • It would help if you had a BP monitor, which should give the pulse rate.
  • Have a pulse oximeter at home
  • Have a single ECG recorder device, which now comes in a handy size. The reports can be easily downloaded in PDF formats and sent to doctors for consultation.

Also Read: Living With A Pacemaker: Dr Balbir On The Important Checklist For Those With A Pacemaker

Q: What care tips a heart patient should follow when visiting a hospital?

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Dr Arora: The patient and also the caretake should be wearing masks. Make sure the hospital is aware of your visit. Do not land there, unannounced. Inform them about the symptoms. While visiting, carry your sanitiser with you and maintain social distancing in the emergency wards. Also, it is essential for patients to under basics of COVID-19 and the happenings. One should stress on social distancing more, even after relaxations in the lockdown. And, more importantly, people still fail to use a mask properly. Hence, do not touch your face again and again while wearing a mask.

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