What is Tachycardia?
This medical condition is having an abnormal heart rate, which means that the rate of your heartbeats goes over a count of one hundred beats per minute when your heart is resting. It is normal to have a fast heart rate when you exercise or an illness stresses your body. In the heart of an adult who is healthy the heart rate is usually sixty to one hundred times per minute when they are resting. There are two different types of tachycardia which are:
- Abnormal Supraventricular Tachycardia — this is when this medical condition originates in the top chambers of your heart called the atria
- Ventricular Tachycardia — this is when this medical condition originates in the bottom chambers of your heart called the ventricles.
There are four common forms of tachycardia that include:
- Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia — in this form the heart rate is between one hundred forty to two hundred beats per minute. It will develop spontaneously and then it can stop and start suddenly. It can recur.
- Atrial Flutter — in this form the top chambers beats from two hundred forty to three hundred beats per minute but the actual pulse rate is a lot slower. The reason that the pulse rate is slower is that not all of the impulses are translated into ventricles contractions.
- Atrial fibrillation — this is when one or both of your top chambers of your heart start to beat erratically putting them out of sync with the two bottom chambers of your heat.
- Ventricular fibrillation — this is when the chaotic rapid electrical impulses causes your ventricles of the heart to quiver ineffectively when they should be pumping blood that is necessary to your blood instead.
Because your heart rate is too rapid it is not effectively pumping blood to all of your body. When this happens your tissues and organs of your body are not getting enough oxygen. In turn when this happens:
- You may have palpitations also known as a rapid heartbeat
- You may feel dizzy
- You may be short of breath
- You may feel lightheaded
- You may have a fast pulse rate
- You may have heart palpitations which are a sensation of jumping in your chest, having a heartbeat that is irregular, or an uncomfortable or racing feeling in your chest.
- You may have chest pain
- You may also faint
- You may feel fatigued
- You may feel anxious
There are people who do not have any symptoms at all with Tachycardia and is only found when you have an electrocardiogram that monitors your chest or when you have a physical exam.
The main cause of Tachycardia is something is disrupting the regular electrical impulses. These impulses are what the pumping rhythm action of your heart. There are many things that can contribute or cause this condition. Some of these include:
- Having damage to your heart from diseases of the heart
- Having electrical pathways that are abnormal in your heart when born known as congenital
- Any congenital abnormality or disease of your heart
- Having blood pressure that is high
- Having smoked or still smoking
- Having a fever
- Consumption of too much alcohol
- Consumption of too many beverages that contain caffeine
- Medication side effects
- Abusing drugs like cocaine, marijuana, etc.
- Having an electrolyte imbalance which is substances that are mineral related and are necessary to conduct electrical impulses
- Having an overactive thyroid called hyperthyroidism
There are some instances in which the cause is not known.
Before any type of treatment can begin Tachycardia must be diagnosed. To diagnosis Tachycardia your physician will:
- Do a proper examination of your symptoms
- Do a physical examination
- Do tests such as an electrocardiogram
The treatment for Tachycardia will depend on the type you have and how severe it is.
Some of the simple treatments called vagal maneuvers that affect the vagal nerve include:
- Using cold water to wash your face
- Putting an icepack on your face
- Holding your breath for a period of time
- Sometimes coughing
- Bearing down as if you are going to have a bowel movement
In more severe cases of Tachycardia the physician may:
- Give you an injection of an anti-arrhythmic medications at the hospital to help slow down your heartbeat to normal.
- Prescribe a pill form of an anti-arrhythmic medication.
- Use electric shock to regulate your heartbeat when you have a bout with Tachycardia.
Some treatments that may be used to prevent a severe bout of Tachycardia could include implanting a:
- Radiofrequency catheter ablation
In some severe cases the physician may have to do open heart surgery.