Share this page

Health Library

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 of arrhythmias.

Aging

Normal aging process makes the heart more susceptible to arrhythmias. As a result, arrhythmias are more common in people who are aged 60 years or older, but they can occur at any age, even in children. Risk can be compounded by other health conditions or treatments that can affect the heart's rhythm.

Cardiovascular Conditions

Chronic cardiovascular conditions prevent the heart and blood vessels from functioning normally. These conditions reduce the body's blood supply while increasing the heart's workload. Over time, the extra strain can damage the heart muscle and/or blood vessels, increasing the risk of arrhythmias. Cardiovascular conditions include:

Substance Use

Certain medications and everyday substances may interfere with your heart's electrical circuit, increasing your risk of arrhythmias. These include:

  • Nicotine from smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products
  • Excess alcohol intake
  • Excess caffeine
  • Over-the-counter medications, such as cough and cold medicines
  • Dietary and herbal supplements
  • Prescription medications that are used to treat:
  • Illegal stimulants, such as cocaine and methedrine
Other Risk Factors

Other factors that are associated with arrhythmias include:

References:

Barsky AJ, Cleary PD, et al. The clinical course of palpitations in medical outpatients. Arch Intern Med.. 1995;155:1782.

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

Mostofsky E, Penner EA, et al. Outbursts of anger as a trigger of acute cardiovascular events: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur Heart J. [Epub 2014 Mar].

Murray-Thomas T, Jones ME, et al. Risk of mortality (including sudden cardiac death) and major cardiovascular events in atypical and typical antipsychotic users: a study with the general practice research database. Cardiovasc Psychiatry Neurol. [Epub 2013 Dec].

Peretto G, Durante A, et al. Postoperative arrhythmias after cardiac surgery: Incidence, risk factors, and therapeutic management. Cardiol Res Pract. [Epub 2014 Jan].

Sarter BH, Finkle JK, 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.

Understanding your risk for arrhythmia. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/UnderstandYourRiskforArrhythmia/Understand-Your-Risk-for-Arrhythmia_UCM_002024_Article.jsp. Updated October 25, 2012. Accessed March 19, 2014.

Who is at risk for an arrhythmia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/atrisk.html. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed March 19, 2014.



Last reviewed December 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Baptist Flame

Baptist Nutrition and Bariatric Center

Find A Doctor

Services

Locations

Baptist Medical Clinic

Patients & Visitors

Learn

Contact Us

Physician Tools

Careers at Baptist

Employee Links

Online Services

At Baptist Health Systems

At Baptist Medical Center

close ×