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Tachycardia is condition that signifies that the heart rate is beating faster than the normal rate of 60 to 100 beats a minute while the patient is at rest. The rate of the heart in both the upper chambers and lower chambers is increased dramatically when tachycardia is occurring. The heart rate change can be gradual or it may affect the individual quite quickly. Controlled by electrical signals pulsed across the heart tissue, the heart rate can become abnormally rapid and create electrical signals that are traveling more rapidly than they are meant to. The tachycardia can cause hart attack or stroke in some individuals if not slowed down. Since it will occur abruptly it is important to watch for warning signs.

Causes, Risk Factors and Complications

There are a number of possible causes of tachycardia including such things as damage that is done to your heart from heart disease, congenial heart disease from birth, high blood pressure, abnormal make up of the heart muscle, smoking, drug abuse, electrolyte and mineral imbalance in the body making it impossible for the heart to conduct the impulses or even some medications that you take on a regular basis and an overactive thyroid caused by thyroid disease, also known as hyperthyroidism.

Some of the complications that can occur due to tachycardia include blood clots that can cause heart attacks or strokes, frequent fainting, heart failure and even ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation sudden death. Atrial fibrillation is a rapid heart rate that comes about due to a chaotic electrical impulse in the atria. This can cause rapid signals that bombard that AV node causing the heart to overload and become confused. Another is called supraventricular tachycardias or SVTs. This is when the heart has these loops of overlapping signals that keep splitting and bumping into each other.

Signs, Symptoms and Tests

There are a number of things that can be overlooked when it comes to tachycardia. Many people simply think little of it and move on unless it is severe enough to get their attention. Some of the symptoms relating to tachycardia are dizziness, unusual shortness of breath, heart palpitations or a flopping sensation in your chest, increased heart rate, lightheaded feelings, slight or severe pain in chest and fainting or feeling faint.

If you seek a professionals help for these symptoms they will listen to your heart with a stethoscope and then perhaps send you for an electrocardiogram or ECG also known as an EKG. This will monitor your heart rates over a short period of time to see if there is anything abnormal. You may also be asked to wear a holter monitor for a period of 24 hours. This goes with you and essentially records your heart rate and movement as an EKG would do, while you are doing normal activity. Another option is an event monitor which is activated by the patient over a series of weeks so that it only records when the patient has an event to record.

Treatment, Drugs and Prevention

Once the problem is detected, your doctor might recommend that you an anti-arrhythmic drug to stop the unusual activity in the heart. This type of medication is only taken when there is an episode, and it can be used at any point when the patient experiences tachycardia in order to prevent the episode from occurring. Another option physicians recommend is the use of a cardioversion which is a shock sent to your heart that helps to get it working in proper beat again.