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Depending on the type of arrhythmia and the person (everyone is different), one might feel a racing heart, a strong pounding or fluttering sensation in the chest, pulsing in the neck, shortness of breath, chest heaviness or pain, weakness, lightheadedness, fainting spells or even no symptoms at all.

Symptoms usually last only seconds to minutes, but patients who have longer arrhythmias can have symptoms that last hours or even days to weeks. Certain arrhythmias increase the chance of stroke or heart failure, and others can even be life-threatening. The most serious arrhythmia, called “ventricular fibrillation” causes the heart to race so fast that it cannot pump blood at all, resulting in sudden loss of consciousness, called a “cardiac arrest.” This is different from a heart attack, which is a sudden blockage in an artery and usually causes chest pain or heaviness but not fainting (a cardiac arrest is an “electrical problem” and a heart attack is a “plumbing problem”).