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About Heart Rhythm Disorders (Arrhythmias)

Heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) occur when a patient's heartbeat is abnormal or irregular, meaning that it can beat too slowly, too quickly or skip a beat. Experts at the University of Chicago Medicine Center for Arrhythmia Care specialize in managing care for the full spectrum of heart rhythm conditions.

What is a Normal Heartbeat?

The heart has an electrical system that regulates the all four chambers of the heart to maintain a constant rhythm. In a healthy heart, a heartbeat is considered normal when the upper chambers (atria) and the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart work in tandem, alternatively contracting and relaxing to move blood through the heart and out to the rest of the body. Typically, a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats a minute.

The heart has an electrical system that regulates the all four chambers of the heart to maintain a constant rhythm. In a healthy heart, a heartbeat is considered normal when the upper chambers (atria) and the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart work in tandem, alternatively contracting and relaxing to move blood through the heart and out to the rest of the body. Typically, a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats a minute.

What Are the Causes and Risks of Arrhythmia?

  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
  • Smoking
  • Excessive drinking
  • Drug abuse
  • Stress


Heart rhythm disorders can vary greatly in severity. Some patients will not have any noticeable signs or symptoms. However, even an arrhythmia that does not produce obvious symptoms could still lead to serious complications and require medical attention. Common symptoms include:

  • A fluttering in your chest
  • A racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • A slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting (syncope) or near fainting

If you have one or more risk factors for arrhythmia and/or are experiencing one or more of the symptoms listed above, please consult with your physician.

«Learn more about the heart rhythm conditions we treat.