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What is Tachycardia? Fast Heart Rate

Tachycardia is a condition where the heart beats too fast. A healthy heart beats 60 to 100 times per minute, pumping about 280 liters of blood every hour. Exercise, stress or fear can cause the heart to beat faster, but this is a normal response. With tachycardia, the heart beats at more than 100 beats per minute and can beat as fast as 400 beats per minute for no specific reason. At this rate the heart is not able to pump blood effectively to the body and brain.

There are different types of fast heart rhythms that can occur in either the upper chambers (atria) or lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart:

  • Atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation start in the upper chambers of the heart
  • Ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation start in the lower chambers of the heart

SYMPTOMS of tachycardia

When your heart beats too fast you may experience various symptoms like:

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

causes of tachycardia

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

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

TREATMENT OPTIONS

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:

VENTRICULAR TACHYCARDIA TREATMENTS

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

VENTRICULAR FIBRILLATION TREATMENTS

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

ATRIAL FLUTTER TREATMENTS

  • Medications

ATRIAL FIBRILLATION TREATMENTS

  • 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.

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