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What may increase your risk for problems from a change in your heart rate or rhythm

Many conditions, lifestyle choices, medicines, and diseases interfere with your ability to heal or fight infection. You may be at risk for a more serious problem from your symptoms if you have any of the following. Be sure to tell your health professional.


  • Older than age 60
  • A history of previous changes in your heart rate or rhythm
  • A history of heart valve disease, including mitral valve prolapse (MVP)
  • A history of heart disease, heart attack, or heart failure
  • A history of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • A history of heart surgery or angioplasty
  • A history of an electrical shock
  • Heart problems from birth (congenital)
  • Placement of a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
  • Poisoning or overdose
  • Strong family history of heart disease or irregular rhythm (arrhythmias)

Lifestyle choices

  • Alcohol abuse or withdrawal
  • Drug abuse or withdrawal
  • Smoking or other tobacco use


  • Blood-thinning medicines, such as warfarin, heparin, and aspirin
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • Medicines to prevent organ transplant rejection


  • Cancer
  • Chronic lung diseases, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Connective tissue disorders, such as lupus or scleroderma
  • Diabetes
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Hemophilia
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
  • Kidney disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Mental health problems, such as panic disorders, panic attacks, or depression
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Thyroid disease
Author Jan Nissl, RN, BS
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Tracy Landauer
Primary Medical Reviewer William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Updated April 24, 2009

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 24, 2009
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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