Cerebral Arrhythmia: Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

It is a disturbance or irregularity in the rhythm of brain waves.

Cerebral arrhythmia is an EEG description of the electrical irritability of the brain and can be associated with a number of conditions, such as migraine headaches , stress , negative emotions, and epilepsy.

The neuroanatomical connections between the brain and the heart provide links that allow cardiac arrhythmias to occur in response to brain activation.

One study suggests that the nervous system directs the events that lead to heart damage by raising catecholamine levels and potentially inducing arrhythmia.

Many strokes are due to undetected cardiac arrhythmias. Any rapid cardiac arrhythmia can induce neurological symptoms such as hemiplegia , aphasia, or psychosis.

Causes of cerebral arrhythmia

Negative Emotions and Heart-Brain Interaction

There is a complex and dynamic interaction between the heart and the brain, especially in the context of negative emotions. Stress, anger, and depression have been shown to have a significant impact on cardiac arrhythmogenesis.

Negatively charged emotion not only produces coronary ischemia, platelet activation, vasoconstriction, altered hemodynamics, and catecholamine release, but also has a significant effect on atrial and ventricular electrical indices.

However, this is not where the story ends, as it appears that cardiac afferent feedback mechanisms produce changes in the cortical regions, the insula, and the anterior cingulate cortices in the brain.

Some people are more aware of their heartbeat and arrhythmias than others. This is likely as a result of enhanced afferent feedback to the anterior cingulate and internal cortices.

Heartbeat evoked potentials measured by EEG have been identified as a result of cardiac afferent feedback. Negative emotion has an asymmetric effect on cortical activity that results in activation of the right hemisphere more than the left.

This feedback mechanism from cardiac afferents travels through the solitary nucleus and probably other afferent pathways to the medulla, parabrachial nucleus, hypothalamus, and thalamus. There does not appear to be an arrhythmia center in the brain, but rather multiple areas that respond to and satisfy behavioral demands.

Stress results in inhomogeneity of repolarization associated with a change in the heartbeat evoked potentials of the left temporal region and an increase in the amplitude of the T wave.

We know that negative emotion results in the release of catecholamines, an increase in sympathetic input, and a decrease in parasympathetic tone. All of this imbalance in the ANS has been shown to occur as a result of cardiac pathology when the exposure is the result of a chronic or persistent imbalance.

Structural changes in the stellate ganglion and the cardiac nervous system occur as a result of chronic increases in sympathetic input and result in arrhythmogenesis.

Elimination of this excessive entry into the heart by thoracic epidural anesthesia or surgical removal of the sympathetic paravertebral chain from the stellate ganglion to T4 has an antifibrillatory effect.

Stress and anger affect not only ventricular arrhythmias but also atrial arrhythmias.

Many studies related to stress events and arrhythmias are subject to memory biases, but Lampert et al. conducted a prospective study that demonstrated that negative emotional triggers were identified as triggers for atrial fibrillation.

Reducing the sympathetic drive in atrial fibrillation and increasing parasympathetic effects have been shown to reduce atrial arrhythmogenesis.

However, it is a trade-off, as excessive vagal entry can also produce changes in the effective atrial refractory periods, induction, and duration of atrial fibrillation.

Interestingly, stress not only increases the frequency of cardiac arrhythmias, but also the lethality of ventricular arrhythmias.

Therefore, a focus on the prevention or treatment of stress, anger and depression could be critical to the management of patients by electrophysiologists.

It is not clear whether psychological interventions can result in fewer arrhythmias, but there are small studies that suggest that they can.

Symptoms of cerebral arrhythmia

Depending on the type of arrhythmia you have, symptoms may appear all the time or only occasionally. You may notice symptoms only when you are physically active.

Certain arrhythmias have mild symptoms, while others can have severe and life-threatening symptoms.

The most common, notable symptoms include:

  • Chest pain.
  • Difficulty exercising because you tire easily.
  • Fatigue or low energy.
  • Heart palpitations, the feeling that your heart is beating, skipping a beat, or beating too hard, too fast, or too slow.
  • Dizziness, dizziness, fainting (syncope), or near fainting.
  • Short of breath.
  • Unexplained sweating

Although many arrhythmias are harmless, some types are life threatening. Getting the right treatment can help prevent complications and improve your quality of life.

If you or someone else experiences any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention to avoid serious complications, including:

  • Organ damage: Arrhythmias can prevent enough oxygen-rich blood from reaching the body, which can damage the brain, kidneys, liver, and lungs.
  • Stroke – Some arrhythmias can cause blood clots, which can travel to the brain and block arteries.
  • Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA): Rapid and irregular heartbeats in the ventricles can cause them to shake, unable to pump blood. SCA can lead to death in a matter of minutes without emergency medical attention.

Treatment of cerebral arrhythmia

Most arrhythmias are considered harmless and are left untreated. Once your doctor has documented that you have an arrhythmia, you will need to find out if it is abnormal or simply reflects normal heart processes.

It will also determine if your arrhythmia is clinically significant, that is, if it causes symptoms or puts you at risk for more serious arrhythmias or complications of arrhythmias in the future. If your arrhythmia is abnormal and clinically significant, your doctor will establish a treatment plan.