Tachycardia

When your heart beats too fast, it cannot work properly.

Generally, an adult heart beats between 60 and 100 times per minute. When an individual has tachycardia, the upper and/or lower chambers of the heart beat significantly faster – sometimes 100 beats or more per minute. Tachycardia is very common and there are numerous types and causes of the condition.

While sometimes harmless, tachycardia can also lead to serious complications, including heart failure, stroke and death.

Sinus tachycardia is often a normal response to certain situations such as exercise or anxiety when your heart’s natural pacemaker sends out electrical signals faster than it should. Supraventricular tachycardia originates in the heart’s upper chambers and ventricular tachycardia starts in the lower chambers. In both cases, the heart beats so fast it can’t fill with blood before it contracts, reducing blood flow to your body. In ventricular fibrillation, electrical impulses cause the ventricles to quiver instead of pumping blood to the body. This can be fatal if the heart isn't restored to a normal rhythm within minutes with an electric shock to the heart.

Many things can cause or contribute to tachycardia, including damage to heart tissue from heart disease, congenital abnormalities, anemia, exercise, sudden stress, high blood pressure, smoking, fever, excessive alcohol or caffeine, medications and an imbalance of electrolytes. Depending on your diagnosis, your treatment options could include medication, ablation, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or surgery.

Symptoms may include: 
• Shortness of breath
• Lightheadedness
• Rapid pulse rate
• Heart palpitations
• Chest pain

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