In its simplest terms, tachycardia means that you have a faster than normal heart beat. According to the Mayo Clinic, the resting heart rate of most adults is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. For persons with tachycardia, the rate is significantly higher and can affect either the upper or lower chambers of the heart. In some instances, both chambers of the heart may be affected.
In the case of tachycardia, doing the job faster does not mean that the heart is doing its job better. In fact, tachycardia is inefficient because the heart can’t deliver the supplies of blood needed since the chambers of the heart are not working together in tandem the way that they should. Some cases of tachycardia are mild and the person may not experience any symptoms, while other cases may be quite severe and life-threatening.
Tachycardia symptoms vary from person to person. Persons with mild cases may not experience any symptoms whatsoever. However, because the heart isn’t delivering blood properly, persons with this condition may experience symptoms such as chest pain or angina, heart palpitations, increased pulse, fainting, dizziness, low blood pressure, or shortness of breath.
Side effects and complications
Tachycardia can lead to some serious side effects, some of which are life-threatening. These include blood clots, stroke, sudden cardiac arrest or SCA, heart failure, fainting spells and even death.
Risk factors and other causes of tachycardia
Heart beat speed is regulated as the result of electrical impulses that tell it when to beat and how fast. For persons with tachycardia, these electrical impulses have been disrupted, which lead to the increased heart rate. There are several different types of conditions which may disrupt the electrical impulses including:
• Conditions that you are born with such as congenital heart defects
• Heart disease
• Lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, too much alcohol consumption, too much caffeine, or recreational drug abuse
• Hyper (overactive) thyroid
• Electrolyte imbalances