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Rapid Heartbeat

Rapid Heartbeat

Consistently rapid heartbeat signifies an abnormal heart condition. This article talks about the symptoms, causes, and treatment methods for such a condition.
Omkar Phatak
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2018
Accelerated heartbeat occurs when the heart pumps excess blood during times of increased physical effort. However, some people experience this condition, even when the body is at rest and is not engaged in a lot of physical effort. This condition, which makes a person consistently exceed the normal or ideal heart rate range, is called 'Tachycardia'. A rapid heartbeat at night, after eating or after drinking alcohol is a cause for concern.
In adults, a heart rate exceeding 100 beats per minute is classified as high heart rate or tachycardia. The heart rate and pumping speed is controlled by electrical signals, generated by the body. An increased rate occurs due to abnormal functioning of the heart and a disruption of its electrical rhythm.
Consistent tachycardia and shortness of breath indicates an overworking of the heart, which may heighten the possibility of a stroke, disrupt heart functioning, and even cause a sudden cardiac arrest. Therefore, it is not a condition to be ignored, especially in people affected by heart disorders.
Symptoms
Tachycardia can be accompanied by a range of other symptoms, that may vary according to underlying cause and its severity. Due to the high heart rate, the efficiency of pumping blood goes down and many parts of the body may be deprived of oxygen, leading to other symptoms. Here are the symptoms that may be experienced, along with tachycardia:
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • High Pulse Rate
  • Chest Pain
  • Fainting
  • Heart Palpitations
People may demonstrate any of the symptoms above or none of them.
Causes
As I said before, heart functioning is controlled by electrical impulses generated in the heart. A rapid heartbeat is caused by an anomaly in this electrical signaling mechanism. The causes of tachycardia can be many. Here are some of the prime ones:
  • An Overactive Thyroid or Hyperthyroidism
  • Drug Abuse
  • Electrolytic Imbalance
  • Heavy Consumption of Caffeine or Alcohol
  • Smoking Addiction
  • High Blood Pressure or Hypertension
  • Congenital Heart Abnormality
  • Heart Tissue Damage
  • Reaction to Medications
Other than these, it may be caused by some complications caused by other diseases. Sometimes, the causes are hard to detect. The exact nature can only be diagnosed from an electrocardiogram (ECG). Accordingly, this condition can be classified into the following types:
  • Atrial Fibrillation: This is caused by chaotic electrical signals in the heart, in the atrial area.
  • Atrial Flutter: This condition causes a rapid but normal heart rate.
  • Supraventricular Tachycardias (SVT):These conditions are usually caused by congenital defects in the heart, resulting in overlapping of electrical signals.
  • Ventricular Tachycardia: This condition is caused by abnormal electrical signals, originating in the ventricles.
  • Ventricular Tachycardia: In this condition, the ventricles do not function properly, leading to lesser blood being pumped by the heart. This is a very serious condition, which may lead to death unless treated soon.
So, these were the different types of tachycardia patterns, that could arise from problems in the heart's electrical signaling mechanism.
Treatment Methods
The treatment of this condition should not be delayed, as it puts a strain on the heart, increasing the risk of a heart attack. There are three major modes of treatment:
  • Use of Antiarrhythmics: Antiarrhythmics are medicines that can suppress most types of tachycardia.
  • Electrical Conversion: The functioning of heart may be restored to normal condition through mild electrical shocks.
  • Drug Control: Consumption of certain drugs that simply bring the heart rate down.
Hope this article has convinced you about the importance of not ignoring an abnormally rapid heart rate condition, as it may lead to fatal complications, if left untended. A rapid heart rate among heart disease patients needs to be monitored especially, as they are vulnerable to complications arising from it. A regular monitoring of the heartbeat, along with blood pressure, is recommended for people affected by heart disease.