Arrhythmia Tachycardia

Tachycardia is a heart condition defined by having a resting heart rate of over 100 beats a minute. This normally results in a couple of problems. First of all, the elevated heart rate means the heart is beating quickly, oftentimes inefficiently. Such a rapid heart rate prevents the ventricles (the large lower chambers of the heart) from completely filling up with blood. That means less blood is pumped with each beat, resulting in lower blood pressure.

Word Origin: Tachycardia

The word “tachycardia” is of Greek origin, and is composed of:

  • “tachy” meaning “rapid”
  • “cardia” meaning “heart”.

Also, an elevated heart rate means the heart is working harder. That means more oxygen is required, but since less blood is pumped (due to the lack of time provided to fill up the ventricles), less oxygen is provided to the heart.

Depending on the type and cause of tachycardia, the condition can be relatively harmless or life threatening. Causes of tachycardia vary from person to person, but are often connected to lung disease, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Two broad categories of tachycardia exist: ventricular (rapid heartbeats originating in the ventricles) and supraventricular tachycardia (rapid heartbeats originating in the atria). Both forms cause the heart’s ventricles to beat rapidly.

Causes of Tachycardia

Tachycardia can be traced to many possible causes. Diseases of the lungs and heart often contribute to rapid heart rate. These include high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Non-medical causes of tachycardia can include caffeine or alcohol consumption. Illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines can also cause an abnormally rapid heart rate.

Symptoms of Tachycardia

The main symptom of tachycardia is a rapid heart rate, but people with tachycardia may experience other symptoms, including:

  • feeling faint
  • dizziness
  • temporary blind spots
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s best to contact your doctor, or medical care provider, as soon as possible.

Treatment Options for Tachycardia

Treatment options vary depending on the type of tachycardia. For those suffering from supraventricular tachycardia, medication such as beta blockers or calcium channel blockers are usually enough to lower the resting heart rate. For ventricular tachycardia, an internal cardioverter defibrillator may be required to regulate the pulse rate.