Tachycardia is abnormal and rapid heart rate developed due to abnormal electric circuits in the chambers of the heart. Patient experiences tachycardia at rest where heartbeats exceed beyond 100 beats per minute. Faster heart rate impacts the normal functioning of the heart resulting insufficient supply to the rest of the body.
Tachycardia sometimes does not represent symptoms or complications.
Tachycardia should be managed properly in time to exclude fatal complications like heart failure, stroke, cardiac arrest or death.
What are the Symptoms of Tachycardia?
The heart works on the basis of electrical impulses received from its natural pacemaker SA node. The electric impulses originate from SA node, travels through atria to contract them, towards atrioventricular (AV node) which directs the impulses to ventricles to signal them to contract. Ventricles after receiving the impulses contract to pump blood either to lungs or rest of the body.
When the electrical signals in the heart chambers are disturbed due to underlying causes, heart beats rapidly at a faster rate than normal. Normally, heart beats between 60 to 100 times per minute. After electrical imbalances, the heartbeat exceeds 100 beats per minute at rest resulting in tachycardia. When the heart beats so fast, ventricles cannot contract fully to pump adequate blood. Thus, blood supply to lungs and rest of the body including the heart is compromised. As oxygen supply to the body is diminished, the symptoms of tachycardia arise. The symptoms depend on the diseases causing tachycardia.
The causes of tachycardia are –
- Emotions like shock, fear or joy
- Congenital heart diseases
- Heart diseases including diseases of muscles, valves, and vasculature of the heart
- Infections and tumors in the heart
- High blood pressure
- Overactive thyroid disease
- Consumption of too much alcohol
- Consumption of cocaine and other drugs
- Reactions to certain medicines
- Some lung diseases like bacterial pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Wolff-Parkinson white syndrome
- Electrolyte imbalances
Each patient with tachycardia can represent a variety of symptoms. Some may not know that they have tachycardia due to the absence of noticeable symptoms.
The symptoms of tachycardia are-
- The patient may experience shortness of breath even at rest.
- He may feel that the heart is beating very fast. This is also known as palpitations.
- Pain in the chest is also a common symptom.
- He may feel that everything around him is moving. He may experience dizziness and fainting.
- Blood pressure may drop down.
- Lightheadedness is another symptom that the patient may experience.
- He may lose consciousness.
- The patient may appear confused.
- He may feel sudden weakness.
- Some patients may feel tiredness or fatigue.
Tachycardia should be properly managed. If it is not treated in time, it may result in abnormal functioning of heart or serious complications leading life-threatening emergency.
The complications of tachycardia are
Blood Clots- Clots in the blood increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Instability of Low Blood Pressure- if tachycardia persists for long, low blood pressure can become unstable lading serious effects on health.
Heart Failure- if tachycardia is not managed properly, the chances of failure of the heart increases with the continued inability of the heart to pump sufficient blood.
Stroke- inadequate blood supply due to blood clots in cerebral arteries may lead to stroke.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest- improper or diminished blood supply to heart muscles due to rapid and irregular heartbeats may cause sudden cardiac arrest.
Sudden Death – ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation may induce sudden death if not controlled.
Tachycardia is rapid and irregular heart rate more than normal at rest. It is mainly caused by the disease underlying such as heart diseases, hypertension, overactive thyroid, etc. Proper management of tachycardia is essential to prevent future complications, such as heart failure, stroke, cardiac arrest or death.
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