Tachycardia is the medical term for a heart that is beating at over 100 beats per minute. At times, this is a normal, even healthy occurrence. If you are exercising, for example, you may experience a heart rate well above 100 BPM. However, tachycardia is meant to describe a fast heartbeat that is unrelated to exercise or stress. In these cases, a quickened heartbeat can signify serious heart problems.
A quickened heartbeat may mean that your body is unable to get oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest Pain
- Rapid Pulse
- Heart Palpitations
Tachycardia may be caused by anything that disrupts the normal rhythm of electrical impulses in the heart. Sometimes, this is relatively harmless. In other cases, it can signify a serious - potentially life-threatening - heart condition.
- High or low blood pressure
- Excessive caffeine use
- Excessive alcohol or stimulant drug use
- Anemia (iron deficiency in the blood)
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Medication side effects
In addition to these causes, a family history of heart rhythm abnormalities, or a personal history of heart problems may put you at greater risk for tachycardia. The strain on the heart caused by factors such as smoking, alcohol use, obesity, and high blood pressure (among other factors) may also increase your risk for tachycardia.
An episode of a quickened heart rate may go away within a few moments of stimulation; for instance, your pulse might jump if you are suddenly frightened.
If left untreated, however, tachycardia may lead to serious complications such as:
- Heart failure
- Blood clots that lead to stroke or heart attack
- Frequent spells of unconsciousness or fainting
- Sudden death
If you experience unexplained symptoms of tachycardia or have any symptoms of chest pain or difficulty breathing, seek emergency medical care immediately.
Below is a list of common treatment options for tachycardia. During your appointment, talk to your health care provider about your health history, any medical conditions you may have, and the symptoms you are experiencing. This will help your provider determine the treatment plan that is right for you.