High Blood Pressure May Cause Irregular or Fast Heartbeat
Another potential complication of hypertension is an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. Arrhythmia occurs when the electrical signals that control the heart’s rhythm are not working properly. This can result in a heartbeat that is too slow, too fast, or erratic. Hypertension is a major risk factor for atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that affects the atria ( upper chambers of the heart). Atrial fibrillation is characterized by a rapid heartbeat and difficulty pumping blood from the atria to the ventricles (lower heart chambers). High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through the blood vessels to the rest of the body. Over time, the heart muscles and the blood vessels that support them may become overexerted and weaken, disrupting the heart’s electrical system. Hypertension causes around a fifth of atrial fibrillation cases. One study found that up to 80 percent of people with atrial fibrillation also had hypertension.