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What are Heart Rhythm Problems?
The heart has an electrical system that cause the heart to beat and pump blood. During a normal heart beat, an electrical signal is first made in a small group of cells called the sinus node. This node tells the heart when to beat. The electrical signal then spreads throughout the atria or upper chambers of the heart to another group of cells called the AV node. Finally, the electrical signal travels to the ventricles or lower chambers of the heart. The AV node connects the upper and lower chambers of the heart. A pulse occurs each time the heart beats and pumps blood. An electrocardiogram (ECG) shows the electrical activity of the heart.
You may develop a heart rhythm problem if any part of this conduction system is damaged. For example, a rhythm problem may occur if an irritable heart cell starts a beat early, or if the electrical signal takes a detour through a part of the heart where a signal doesn't normally travel. Similarly, a problem in the AV node can cause a rhythm problem by blocking the electrical signals instead of allowing them through to the lower chambers of the heart.