What is Tachycardia? Fast Heart Rate


Tachycardia is a fast heart rate — more than 100 beats per minute — that can either start in the heart's lower chambers (ventricles) or upper chambers (atria). At these elevated rates, the heart is not able to efficiently pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body. 


Tachycardia can occur for several reasons. Common 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


When your heart beats too fast you may experience various symptoms. These symptoms include:

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

Risk Factors

Certain conditions can increase your risk of developing an abnormally fast heartbeat (tachycardia), including:

  • 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


Tachycardia can be ventricular (in the lower chambers of the heart) or atrial (in the upper chambers of the heart), and the treatment strategy may vary depending on what type of tachycardia one may have. Your heart doctor will determine the treatment that's best for your condition, and may also discuss lifestyle changes with you.

The types of treatment range from medication to surgery. For thousands of people each year, an implantable defibrillator monitors the heart and delivers life-saving therapies to treat dangerously fast and slow heart rhythms. Other treatment options include:


  • Medications
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
  • Automatic external defibrillator (AED)


  • External defibrillation
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
  • Medications


  • Medications


  • Medications
  • Cardiac catheter ablation
  • Cardioversion
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
  • Surgery 

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.