Causes and Risk Factors

What are the causes and risk factors of atrial arrhythmias?

High blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and other heart and lung conditions are associated with atrial arrhythmias.

As you grow older, the risk of atrial arrhythmias seems to increase, especially after age 60. High blood pressure and coronary artery disease are associated with atrial arrhythmias, as are other heart and lung conditions such as chronic lung disease, disease of the heart valves, and heart failure.

People without heart disease can develop an arrhythmia for unknown causes, but risk factors can include:

  • Emotional stress
  • Consumption of alcohol, caffeine, diet pills and tobacco
  • Some prescription medications, such as certain cold, cough, allergy medications and antidepressants

In addition, some rhythms are present at birth, such as White-Parkinson-White syndrome, in which a group of fast, irregular heart beats is caused by extra muscle pathways between the atria and the ventricles.