What is Tachycardia?

When individuals have tachycardia, their heart beats too fast during resting periods. When either one or both of the chambers of the heart beat too quickly, its efficiency is compromised and the blood flow rate is decreased. This condition also causes the heart to demand more oxygen and if the oxygen requirement is not met, it can cause a heart attack.

Tachycardia can also cause individuals to have sudden cardiac arrest or a stroke. This disorder is often caused by medicine reactions, alcohol abuse and recreational drug use. Some people who have this disorder are born with heart irregularities that cause this condition to develop.

What are the Symptoms of Tachycardia?

Individuals who have a fast beating heart may feel pains in their chest because there is not an adequate amount of blood flowing through the heart. People often feel confused, dizzy and lightheaded due to this condition. Heart palpitations are also common as well as being short of breath.

Individuals may become weak all at once and some people will faint. People who are at a higher risk of having tachycardia are those who are 60 years of age or older and have high blood pressure or heart disease. Individuals who experience anxiety and stress are also at a greater risk of having a rapid heartbeat.

Tachycardia Causes

Tachycardia is caused when electric signals in the upper chambers of the heart begin to fire abnormally. This interferes with signals that come from the sinoartrial node which naturally establishes the pace of the heartbeat. The result is a rapid heartbeat. When the heart beats too fast, it cannot properly fill up with blood before it contracts, which compromises blood flow throughout the body.

There are many potential reasons why the heart’s electrical system could function incorrectly. Firstly, there could be congenital abnormalities of the heart, or heart disease which can lead to its tissues becoming damaged. High or low blood pressure could also be responsible. Overactive thyroid is another health condition associated with tachycardia. Some medications can also cause tachycardia as a side effect.

Sometimes tachycardia can occur with no history of heart problems or underlying health conditions, and this can be caused by things like:

  • Intense exercise
  • Sudden shock, such as being involved in a car accident
  • Long-term stress
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine
  • Fever from an infection
  • Use of recreational drugs

Smoking, anemia and electrolyte imbalances are all also associated with tachycardia.

How is a Tachycardia Treated?

The main goal of tachycardia treatment is to slow the beating of the heart and to keep this occurrence from happening in the future. Physicians may give the individual an injection so the heart will beat normally. Some people are prescribed anti-arrhythmic medications to take orally that keep the heart beating as it should. Medical professionals may shock the heart by using patches or paddles, when using cardioversion, if other types of treatment have failed. To keep subsequent episodes from happening, individuals may have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator placed inside their chest to track the rhythm of the heart.

Tachycardia Prevention

To help prevent tachycardia, it might be helpful to focus on improving the health of the heart and cardiovascular system. For example, smokers should try to stop as tobacco use can increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Those who drink lots of alcohol or caffeine should try to cut back, as both of these can affect heart health.

Individuals with diagnosed conditions which pose a high risk of tachycardia may be prescribed medications that can reduce their risk or keep their condition under control as best as possible. Those who are at an increased risk of tachycardia or other heart problems may wish to have regular heart health examinations so that doctors can identify signs of tachycardia early.