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.

Risk factors for arrhythmias include:

Medical Conditions

The following medical conditions increase your chances of developing an arrhythmia:

  • Heart muscle damage after heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Problems with heart valves
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Endocrine disorders, such as thyroid or adrenal gland problems
  • Anemia
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Liver disease
  • Typhoid fever
  • Hypothermia
  • Complication after near-drowning
  • Electric shock or lightning strike
  • Certain birth defects
  • Medications

    Taking the following medication may increase your chances of developing an arrhythmia:

  • Diet pills or decongestants
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Digitalis
  • Thyroid medications
  • Prescription stimulants (eg, Ritalin)
  • Lifestyle Habits

    The following habits may increase your chances of developing an arrhythmia:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Stress
  • Excessive caffeine intake
  • Illegal Drugs

    Use of illegal drugs, especially stimulants such as cocaine, methedrine, and other amphetamines, increases your risk of developing an arrhythmia.


    As with the risk of heart disease, your risk of developing an arrhythmia increases as you age.