RIYADH — The Saudi Heart Rhythm Society is holding its annual Heart Rhythm Week.
This year’s theme “Your Heart in Your Hands” focuses on patient empowerment and aims to encourage members of the public to recognize symptoms of heart rhythm disorders and seek adequate advice from healthcare professionals.
An irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, is not the same as an irregular heart rate. In fact, the two don’t necessarily occur together. Irregular heart rhythms can also occur in otherwise normal, healthy hearts.
A normal heart rate is 50 to 100 beats per minute. Arrhythmias can occur with a normal heart rate, or with heart rates that are slow or rapid.
Heart rhythm disorders result from abnormal electrical activity in the heart. Cardiac arrhythmias can occur at any age and are the leading cause of death affecting millions of people around the world.
Arrhythmias may be caused by many different factors, including coronary artery disease, electrolyte imbalances in blood such as sodium or potassium, changes in heart muscles, injury from a heart attack and healing process after heart surgery.
The “Your Heart in Your Hands” checklist is designed to educate the public and support clinicians in identifying these deadly conditions.
The Saudi Heart Rhythm Society is calling for anyone experiencing palpitations, loss of consciousness/fainting, unexplained slips and falls, or has family history of SCA (Sudden Cardiac Arrest) to complete the checklist provided at waiting areas across hospitals in Saudi Arabia to aid discussion with their electro physiologist as they seek further advice.
Studies have shown more than 250,000 deaths occur each year as a result of SCA. In fact, SCA claims one life every two minutes, taking more lives each year than breast cancer, lung cancer, or AIDS.
In the United States, more than 850,000 people are hospitalized for an arrhythmia each year.
Treatment depends on the type and seriousness of the case. Some people with arrhythmias require no treatment. For others, treatments can include medication, making lifestyle changes and undergoing surgical procedures.
SCA is mostly reversible if treated within minutes, but the only effective treatment is the delivery of an electrical shock, either with an automated external defibrillator, or with an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD). ICDs have been proven to be 98 percent effective in treating dangerously fast ventricular arrhythmias that can lead to SCA.
An ICD is an electronic device that constantly monitors the heart rhythm. When it detects a very fast, abnormal heart rhythm, it delivers energy to the heart muscle. This causes the heart to beat in a normal rhythm again.
In Saudi Arabia, it is estimated that 800 ICD implants are performed every year, which means 30 implants per about 1 million people. Compared to US figures, it falls below the 600 ICD implants per million.
On the occasion of this year’s Saudi Heart Rhythm Week, which began Wednesday, Dr. Abdulmohsen Al-Musaad, consultant electro physiologist at King Fahd National Guard Hospital, Riyadh, said: “At least one in four of us will develop a potentially fatal heart rhythm disorder. Saudi Heart Rhythm Society is calling for anyone experiencing symptoms to fill out the checklist available in patient waiting areas of all hospitals in Saudi Arabia and to see their electro physiologist.” — SG