Tachycardia (Ventricular Tachycardia; Supraventricular Tachycardia; Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia)
Tachycardia is a rapid heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute. Sinus tachycardia, from the heart's sinus node, is a normal response to exercise, illness, or stress.
There are several types of abnormal tachycardias or
. These can come from two places:
Atria (the two smaller chambers on the top of the heart)—called
supraventricular tachycardias Ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart)—called
This condition can be life-threatening. But, it can be treated. If you think you or someone you know has this condition, get emergency help.
Electrical System and Chambers of the Heart
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.
This condition is caused by abnormal electrical impulses that control the heart.
These factors increase your chance of having tachycardia. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following:
Heart disease, especially a prior
—damage to the muscle wall of the lower chambers of the heart
Cardiomyopathy Electrolyte abnormalities—too much or too little calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium in the blood Myocardial ischemia—insufficient blood flow to heart muscle tissue Hypoxemia—not enough oxygen in the blood Acidosis—too much acid in the body’s fluids
If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to this condition. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
Heart palpitations Fast heart rate Dizziness Lightheadedness Fainting or near fainting Chest pain Shortness of breath
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will also have an exam. Tests may include the following:
Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)
—a test that records the heart’s activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
—an ambulatory monitor to record your heart rhythm that can be worn from 1-30 days to detect arrhythmias and correlate symptoms with the heart rhythm
Holter monitor or event monitor
—particularly if the symptoms occur during physical activity
—an invasive test where monitoring wires are placed inside the heart and the heart's conduction system is tested directly
—a tube-like instrument inserted into the heart through a vein or artery (usually in the arm or leg) to detect problems with the heart and its blood supply
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
The following medications are used to treat this condition:
Beta-blockers (eg, atenolol, metoprolol, bisoprolol) Calcium channel blockers (eg, diltiazem, verapamil) Anti-arrhythmics, such as flecainide (Ambocor), procainamide (Procanbid), amiodarone (Cordarone), and sotalol (Betapace)
is done during an electrophysiology study. Radiofrequency energy or cold energy is used to destroy the abnormality and possibly cure the problem.
can be surgically placed into your body. This device monitors your heartbeat. It can apply a shock to correct an irregular heartbeat.
Device to Correct Tachycardia
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.
Reducing risk of heart disease is the best way you can prevent this condition. Take the following steps:
Begin a safe
with the advice of your doctor
If you smoke,
, one that is low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
Avoid or limit the intake of caffeine and
alcohol Have regular physical exams
Treat underlying medical problems (eg,
high blood pressure
Last reviewed November 2008 by
Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a
Copyright © 2007
EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.