You feel as if your heart is trying to escape your chest; there are flopping inside, and frightening lightheadedness. Tachycardia can strike regardless of your age – high pulse rate can be caused by a number of things, and not all of them are dangerous. In this article, we will discuss what can be behind tachycardia and what ways to prevent it there are.
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Tachycardia is a type of arrhythmia, a disorder in which heart beat rate exceeds the normal range when you are resting. Among the causes of it are both dangerous conditions and normal states. Not every increase in heart beat rate is a sign of something dangerous: there are cases when the rate of pumping action is supposed to increase. Besides, there are things which can lead to temporary tachycardia, such as caffeine and alcohol.
Causes of tachycardia
- It can be a response to physiological situations, and in these cases tachycardia is considered a norm. Among such situations are exercising, being anxious, afraid or angry, and other stress-inducing conditions. The medical term for such a kind of tachycardia is sinus tachycardia. In this type, the rate is fast yet steady. It can also be triggered by some medications or fever. There are causes of sinus tachycardia that are less common, including increased thyroid activity or anemia. Tachycardia of this kind is dangerous only in rare cases, when it indicates heart failure or attack, or hemorrhage.
- The most common reason for tachycardia is cardiovascular diseases. Heart disease results in damage to heart tissue, and abnormal blood pressure can also contribute to it. Congenital heart abnormalities (like long QT) can also underlie tachycardia. The type of tachycardia associated with serious conditions is called ventricular tachycardia. It can also occur in those with sarcoidosis, cardiomyopathy or electrolyte imbalance.
- The third type is called supraventricular tachycardia. As seen from the causes mentioned above, the kind of triggers determines the tachycardia type a patient has. This type is more likely to strike women and children. It usually affects those who abuse alcohol, consume caffeine-rich drinks, or smoke.
Depending on what type of tachycardia you have, you may need different kinds of treatment. If it’s sinus tachycardia, your doctor may tell you to reevaluate your lifestyle and avoid stress. Losing weight and maintaining a decent level of physical activity can also help. However, if your tachycardia strikes often and is caused by something more serious than stress or common fever, medications are likely to be prescribed.
Doctors can use some of the following approaches to tachycardia episode prevention:
- If there is an additional electrical pathway that is causing tachycardia, catheter ablation can be used. The procedure implies inserting catheters into blood vessels and using electrodes to destroy the pathway in the heart. One of the method advantages is that there is no need for surgery.
- Medications are used in most patients with tachycardia. Among the most commonly used medications are beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers. There are also anti-arrhythmic drugs that can be combined with the medications mentioned above. Besides, such patients may benefit from blood-thinning drugs, because tachycardia is associated with an increased risk for blood clot development.
- Implantable devices can also be used to treat tachycardia. Pacemakers and cardioverter-defibrillators are designed to help prevent episodes of high pulse rate.
- To try to prevent supraventricular tachycardia, one should avoid alcohol, smoking, and stress factors.
Whatever the means of prevention, treatment must be supervised by a professional. If you have tachycardia, treating it yourself can aggravate the situation, so consult a doctor if your resting heart rate exceeds 90 or 100 bpm.