What is tachycardia?

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

Tachycardia is the medical name for a fast heart rate; usually over 100 BPM. Tachycardia can be caused by arrhythmia disorders which lead to a problem with the rhythm of your heart.

It is normal for us to have fluctuations in our heart rate, which are usually brought on by exercise or as a response to trauma, stress or illness. However, if you have tachycardia you will experience a faster heart rate without any external influences.

If your heart is beating too fast then it may lead to a reduced flow of blood around the body and therefore result in organs being starved of oxygen. Here is a list of the most common symptoms that patients may experience:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Light-headedness or fainting

  • Chest pain

  • Fast pulse or heart palpitations

In some cases, it will not cause any symptoms or complications, however if it is left untreated it can affect the function of the heart and lead to serious complications such as:

  • Heart failure

  • Stroke

  • Cardiac arrest or death

If you believe that you have tachycardia is important that you go and see your GP to ensure that it is not caused by anything serious.

When treating tachycardia, the overall goal is to slow the heart rate down, prevent future episodes and treat any underlying problems that may be causing the fast heart rate. Here are some of the most common treatments that are used to treat patients that are suffering from tachycardia:

Medication: Anti-arrhythmic medication can be taken to prevent a fast heart rate. In some cases, patients may also be offered calcium channel blockers or beta blockers.

Pacemaker: A pacemaker is a small device that is placed under the skin. When the device senses an abnormal heartbeat, it sends an electrical pulse to the heart which helps to resume ‘normal’ activity.

Surgery: Open heart surgery may need to be done if is there is an extra electrical pathway that is causing tachycardia. Please note that surgery will only be used as a last resort if other, less invasive, methods of treatments have been unsuccessful.

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.