• Risk Factors for Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)

    A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
    It is possible to develop arrhythmias with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing arrhythmias. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
    Risk factors for arrhythmias include:
    The following medical conditions increase your chances of developing an arrhythmia:
    Taking the following medication may increase your chances of developing an arrhythmia:
    • Diet pills or decongestants
    • Antidepressant medications
    • Digitalis
    • Thyroid medications
    • Prescription stimulants (eg, Ritalin)
    The following habits may increase your chances of developing an arrhythmia:
    • Smoking
    • Alcohol
    • Stress
    • Excessive caffeine intake
    Use of illegal drugs, especially stimulants such as cocaine, methedrine, and other amphetamines, increases your risk of developing an arrhythmia.
    As with the risk of heart disease, your risk of developing an arrhythmia increases as you age.


    Barsky, AJ, Cleary, PD, Coeytaux, RR, Ruskin, JN. The clinical course of palpitations in medical outpatients. Arch Intern Med. 1995;155:1782.

    Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine . 14th ed. McGraw-Hill; 1998.

    Lok NS, Lau CP. Prevalence of palpitations, cardiac arrhythmias and their associated risk factors in ambulant elderly. Int J Cardiol. 1996;54:231.

    Mayo Clinic and Foundation for Medical Education and Research website. Available at: http://www.mayo.edu/ .

    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/ .

    Sarter BH, Finkle JK, Gerszten RE, et al. What is the risk of sudden cardiac death in patients presenting with hemodynamically stable sustained ventricular tachycardia after myocardial infarction? J Am Coll Cardiol. 1996;28:122.

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