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About Tachycardia (Fast Heartbeat)

If you have tachycardia, your heart beats very fast, at least more than 100 beats per minute. This can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or a fluttering in the chest. An implantable cardioverter defibrillator continuously monitors your heart and delivers life-saving therapies to treat dangerously fast heart rhythms.

Definition

Tachycardia is a fast heart rate (more than 100 beats per minute) that starts in the heart's lower chambers (ventricles). At these elevated rates, the heart is not able to efficiently pump oxygen-rich blood to your body.

Tachycardia can occur in either the upper heart chambers (atrial tachycardia) or lower heart chambers (ventricular tachycardia).

Causes

Causes of tachycardia include:

  • Heart-related conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Poor blood supply to the heart muscle due to coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis), heart valve disease, heart failure, heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy), tumors, or infections
  • Other medical conditions such as thyroid disease, certain lung diseases, electrolyte imbalance, and alcohol or drug abuse
  • Emotional stress or drinking large amounts of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages

Symptoms

Symptoms of tachycardia include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden weakness
  • Fluttering in the chest
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting

Risk Factors

Certain conditions can increase your risk of developing tachycardia:

  • Coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis)
  • Heart failure (poor pumping heart)
  • Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
  • Congenital heart defects (condition you are born with)
  • Inflammatory or degenerative heart conditions
  • Chronic lung disease

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 11 Nov 2014

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