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Electrolyte Imbalance

The human body is composed of up to 60 % water. Adequate fluid and electrolyte levels are essential for healthy functioning of all organs and body systems. Electrolytes are found in the blood, urine, tissues and body fluids. Sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate and magnesium play an important role conducting electric charge within the body. These minerals must be maintained in the appropriate ratio for proper functioning of the muscles, nerves, brain and heart. If there is any imbalance in their ratio, which usually occurs due to change in water levels in the body, electrolyte imbalance will occur. The kidneys work as major regulators of the electrolyte balance. Kidney malfunction results in excessive electrolyte retention or excretion resulting in an imbalance.


Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance vary with the electrolyte. Typical symptoms of electrolyte imbalance include fatigue, dizziness, excessive sweating, cold extremities and trembling. Swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, and hands might also be due to a fluid and electrolyte imbalance. There might be nausea, reduced urine output, dark urine, dry skin, aching joints and dry mouth. In cases of severe electrolyte imbalance, there might be convulsions and seizures.

Urine test and blood tests are done to evaluate the electrolyte imbalance. Often kidney ultrasound or EKG might be ordered. Based on the electrolyte that is out of balance, treatment includes dietary changes, fluid intake restrictions and medications to correct the imbalance. Often medication like corticosteroids, laxatives, cough medicines, diuretics and oral contraceptives can cause changes in the electrolyte balance.

Hyponatremia: Imbalance in sodium concentration in the plasma.

Hypokalemiaa: Deficiency of potassium in the bloodstream.

Hypercalcemia: Elevated calcium level in the blood.

Cardiac Arrhythmia

Cardiac arrhythmia or Cardiac dysrhythmia refers to a disturbance of the heart rhythm. When the regular heart rhythm is disturbed, it can lead to symptoms that can range from mild to life-threatening. The heart may have slower beats or there may be a blockage of the electrical pathway of the heart. One of the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation. This occurs in older persons when the upper atrial chambers of the heart do not pump correctly. This can lead to blood clots. Heart failure or electrolyte imbalance can bring on cardiac arrhythmia.


Tachycardia or Tachydysrhythmia is a condition where there is rapid heartbeat due to inefficiency in the blood circulation. Tachycardia is a condition where the heart rhythm is more than 100 beats/minute. This can happen due to stress, hyperthyroidism or alcohol. On the other hand, Bradycardia or bradyarrhythmia is a condition where the heart rhythm is less than 60 beats/min. A ventricular arrhythmia can be life-threatening. This happens when there is ventricular fibrillation. It is essential to treat this condition and restore the rhythm within minutes to prevent heart damage and death. Allergic reactions can trigger arrhythmia.


Some persons suffering from cardiac arrhythmia notice symptoms such as dizziness, fainting and lightheadedness. There may be a fluttering or pounding sensation in the chest. Anti arrhythmic agents such as amiodarone and sotalol are prescribed to maintain the normal rhythm of the heart. Amiodarone is effective atrial flutter and to establish heart's normal rhythm.

In cases of atrial fibrillation, Warfarin is used to prevent blood clots. Medication for cardiac dysrhythmia includes beta blockers such as metoprolol and atenolol to reduce the heart rhythm. An electronic cardiac pacemaker may be implanted to regulate the heart beat.



Electrocardiogram

An electrocardiogram or ECG is a non-invasive diagnostic test to record the electrical voltage in the heart so as to understand its functioning and regularity of heart beats. The electrocardiogram or EKG can help in diagnosing cardiovascular disease. The ECG is used to check for any damage to the heart and regulate the functioning of the pacemaker.

An electrocardiogram measures the electrical activity within the heart, thereby throwing light on the how the heart muscles function. This test is not painful. An ECG is recommended for patients who complain of regular chest pain or palpitations to check for the normal functioning of the heart. It can help in detecting heart attack or (ischaemia) ischemia. If a patient suffers from hypothermia, pulmonary embolism, mitral stenosis or left ventricular hypertrophy, an EKG can help in diagnosis.

Other non-cardiac problems such as drug overdose or electrolyte imbalance can be diagnosed with an EKG. Abnormal results from an ECG test may be indicative of arrhythmia, myocarditis, impending heart attack or enlarged heart.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 19, 2019