Tachycardia is a condition where your heart is beating too quickly and is generally classified as beating at 100 bpm or more. Your resting heart beat is governed by your age and varies quite widely but would not normally be as high as 100 bpm.
Sometimes tachycardia may cause only a couple of symptoms and may not lead to any problems. However, when your heart beats to quickly it can increase the risk of cardiac arrest or death, alternatively the risk of stroke is also increased by seriously disrupting the normal function of the heart.
The problem with having a rapid heartbeat is that it doesn’t allow the heart sufficient time to fill up with blood before it begins to contract. As a result, blood flow to the rest of your body is compromised.
What is Tachycardia?
Tachycardia is caused by abnormal electrical signals which interfere with signals coming from the hearts natural pacemaker. This results in the heart rate speeding up. There are several different forms of tachycardia and one particular type is called atrial or supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT. This form of tachycardia can develop in the upper chambers of your hearts.
Other forms of tachycardia include sinus tachycardia, where your heart beats too quickly but the increase is steady. This can be caused by anxiety or fever, through taking medicine or certain types of street drugs, or when you take strenuous exercise. It’s also possible for sinus tachycardia to be due to anemia or heart muscle damage, as well as hemorrhage, but this is far less common.
Ventricular tachycardia begins in the heart’s lower chambers and it can be tolerated by the patient or it may be life-threatening. It all depends on the speed of the heart rhythm and whether it is due to cardiac dysfunction.
Who Is More Likely to Have Tachycardia?
There are a number of different reasons why you may develop tachycardia and some may be due to medical conditions while others are down to lifestyle choices. Medical conditions that can cause tachycardia include congenital heart defects, developing a fever or having an electrolyte imbalance. It may also be due to a person being anemic, having hyperthyroidism, having high blood pressure or damage to the heart.
Tachycardia can also develop as a side-effect from certain medications. Tachycardia that is due to lifestyle choices may be written down to stress, exercising too strenuously or failing to exercise at all. Other causes may include using alcohol to excess, drinking too much coffee, or taking recreational drugs. You are also more likely to develop tachycardia if you smoke.
Take Action If You Think Your Heart Is Beating to Quickly
If you think your heart is beating too quickly it’s well worth seeking advice from a cardiologist.
There are certain symptoms to be aware of and which may be cause for concern. These symptoms include feeling dizzy or actually fainting, having trouble breathing, or noticing you have chest pain. Obviously, you’re also more likely to realize your heart has begun to beat quicker than normal and it may feel as if you are having heart palpitations.
The first thing your cardiologist will want to do is to diagnose the exact type of tachycardia as this will affect the treatment prescribed. If the tachycardia is being caused by a medical condition, then surgery may be required or drugs might be used to help control the condition.
It’s a different matter if the tachycardia is perhaps due to stress or anxiety, or to some other lifestyle factor. In this case, treatment may involve making lifestyle changes to help resolve the tachycardia naturally and without medical intervention.
Whatever the reason for your tachycardia, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis. With all types of tachycardia, it’s often possible to lead a perfectly normal and healthy life, provided you get an early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Visiting your cardiologist will assist you in receiving a complete evaluation of your heart health and they will quickly be able to determine the cause of your rapid heartbeat. Don’t delay, but instead contact your cardiologist to book your evaluation straightaway.
Stories by Emma Kalman