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Causes of Arrhythmia

Your heart, which is not much bigger than a fist, beats 100,000 times a day to circulate blood throughout your body. To pump blood, your heart muscles must contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm. Contraction and relaxation are controlled by electrical signals that travel through your heart muscle — like electricity through wires. If for any reason the electrical wiring of your heart is damaged, an arrhythmia can develop.

Some people are born with an electrical short circuit in their heart. But most don't experience electrical problems until other health problems put them at risk.

Many things can damage your heart's electrical system and lead to an electrical problem:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Leaky heart valve
  • Age
  • Scar tissue formed during a heart attack

Other health problems — not specifically related to your heart — can lead to an arrhythmia. These may include:

  • Overactive thyroid gland
  • Illegal drugs, such as cocaine
  • Certain medications