What is tachycardia?
Tachycardia is the medical term for when the heart rate reaches over 100 beats/minute. While a fast heartbeat is normal under certain conditions, exercise, or responses to stress, for example, tachycardia is different. In tachycardia, the heart beats much faster than normal due to conditions that are unrelated to normal physiological stresses. There are several types of tachycardia, some of these include:
- Atrial flutter (when the heart’s atria or upper chambers beat very fast and irregularly),
- atrial fibrillation (a rapid heart rate that is caused by irregular, chaotic electrical impulses in the atria, or upper chambers of the heart),
- ventricular tachycardia (A rapid heart rate that begins with abnormal electrical signals in the ventricles, or lower chambers of the heart. The rapid heartbeat keeps the ventricles from filling and contracting efficiently, making it impossible to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.),
- The pain is lasting, or intermittent and often intensifies during activities
- Shortness of breath
- supraventricular tachycardia (Caused by abnormal circuitry, this rapid heartbeat starts above the lower chambers of the heart. It is the most common form of tachycardia in infants and children, though may be present at any age.), and
- ventricular fibrillation (Occurs when chaotic, rapid electrical impulses cause the ventricles to quiver instead of pumping the necessary blood to the body.).
- Cold sweat
- Nausea or vomiting
What causes tachycardia?
Tachycardia happens when something disrupts the heart’s normal electrical impulses. Some causes of this include:
- Drinking too many caffeinated beverages
- Drinking too much alcohol
- High or low blood pressure
- Imbalance of electrolytes, mineral-related substances necessary for conducting electrical impulses
- Medication side effects
- Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
- Sudden stress, such as fright
- Use of stimulant drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine
- Underlying Cardiac anomalies
At times, the exact cause of tachycardia can’t be determined.
Symptoms of tachycardia –
A heart that’s beating too quickly makes pumping blood to the rest of the body more difficult. Lack of blood flow can cause tissue damage and starve your organs. It can also cause the following tachycardia-related symptoms.
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations — a racing, uncomfortable or irregular heartbeat or a sensation of “flopping” or “fluttering” in the chest
- Rapid pulse rate
- Chest pain
When you should see a doctor:
Tachycardia can be caused by a number of medical conditions that if left untreated could be fatal. You should see a doctor if you or anyone in your care experiences any of the symptoms previously mentioned.
The staff in Kingwood was excellent. I think in order to make the process seamless and move quickly and efficiently, I dealt with a few representatives and the young man who ultimately took the swab was so kind… Great group at Neighbors in Kingwood!– Beatrice