What is Tachycardia?

  • Tachycardia is a medical term that refers to a faster heartbeat than normal, usually more than 100 beats per minute.
  • Sometimes, a faster heartbeat is a normal response due to physical activity, anxiety or stress. But few times, it is an indication of a heart-related problem.
  • Based on the cause or part of the heart responsible for the faster heartbeat, it classified into types of tachycardia which includes:
  • Atrial fibrillation: Irregular or faster heartbeat is caused by chaotic, irregular electrical impulses in the upper chambers of the heart (Atria) resulting in weak or rapid contractions of atria.
  • Atrial flutter: In atrial flutter, the upper chambers of the heartbeats very rapidly but at a regular rate resulting in weak contractions of atria.
  • Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT): Abnormal or rapid heartbeat in the lower chambers of the heart (Ventricle). It is usually caused by abnormal circulation in the heart, present at birth and creates a loop of overlapping signals.
  • Ventricular tachycardia: Abnormal electrical signals in the lower chambers of the heart (Ventricles).
  • Ventricular fibrillation: Ventricular fibrillation occurs when there is a rapid, chaotic electrical impulse in the lower chambers of the heart (Ventricles). This may occur during or after a heart attack.

What are the symptoms of tachycardia?

  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Syncope (Fainting)
  • Lightheadedness

What are the causes of tachycardia?

  • High blood pressure
  • Hypothyroid/Hyperthyroid
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Certain stimulants like methamphetamine, cocaine

What are the complications of tachycardia?

  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sudden death

How is tachycardia diagnosed?

  • Electrocardiogram: This is a noninvasive test, to check the electrical activity of the heart which determines rate and rhythm.
  • Echocardiogram: Utilizes ultrasound images to check chambers, valves of the heart
  • Holter monitoring: The patient is advised to wear a portable device to record continuous ECG for about 24 to 72 hours.
  • Event monitoring: If a patient presents a normal heartbeat during Holter monitoring or palpitation present weekly once, the doctor might recommend an event monitor. A small device intended to monitor heartbeat over a week to a month.

How is tachycardia treated?

  • Beta-blockers to control the heart’s rate and rhythm
  • Cardioversion: This involves applying an electrical current to the heart to correct rhythm and rate
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator: This helps in controlling rate and rhythm by using electrical current
  • Ablation or radiofrequency ablation or cryoablation: Destroy the part of the heart that is sending  abnormal or rapid electrical signals
  • Manage stress levels
  • Avoid stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine
  • Avoid alcohol intake

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