Pronounced: Tay-KEE-car-de-yaEn Espaol (Spanish Version)
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 arrhythmias . 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 ventricular tachycardia
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
2008 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 heart attack
- Cardiomyopathydamage to the muscle wall of the lower chambers of the heart
- Electrolyte abnormalitiestoo much or too little calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium in the blood
- Myocardial ischemiainsufficient blood flow to heart muscle tissue
- Hypoxemianot enough oxygen in the blood
- Acidosistoo much acid in the bodys 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 palpitationsFast heart rateDizzinessLightheadednessFainting or near faintingChest painShortness of breath Diagnosis 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 hearts activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle Holter monitor or event monitoran 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 Exercise testparticularly if the symptoms occur during physical activity Electrophysiology studyan invasive test where monitoring wires are placed inside the heart and the heart's conduction system is tested directly Cardiac catheterization 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 TreatmentTalk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following: Medications 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) AblationAblation is done during an electrophysiology study. Radiofrequency energy or cold energy is used to destroy the abnormality and possibly cure the problem.
Cardioversion occurs when an electric shock is applied to the heart to terminate the abnormal rhythm. This treatment may be done for life-threatening rhythms, such as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. It is also done for milder arrhythmias, such as .Cardioverison occurs when a shock is given to the heart to correct the abnormal rhythm. This may be done for life-threatening rhythms. It is also done for milder arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation. Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)An ICD 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 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc. Prevention Reducing risk of heart disease is the best way you can prevent this condition. Take the following steps: Maintain a healthy weight Begin a safe exercise program with the advice of your doctor If you smoke, quit Eat a healthful diet , one that is low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetablesManage stress Avoid or limit the intake of caffeine and alcoholHave regular physical exams Treat underlying medical problems (eg, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems) RESOURCES:
American Heart Associationhttp://www.americanheart.org National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutehttp://www.nhlbi.nih.gov CANADIAN RESOURCES: Canadian Cardiovascular Societyhttp://www.ccs.ca/home/index_e.aspx Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canadahttp://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/Page.asp?PageID=24 References: Arrhythmia prevention. Heart Rhythm Society website. Available at: http://www.hrspatients.org/patients/risk_factors/default.asp . Accessed April 19, 2007. Implantable cardioverter defibrillator. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/270.xml . Accessed April 19, 2007. Paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed101.epnet.com/Detail.aspx?id=113613 . Accessed April 19, 2007. Ventricular tachycardia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed102.epnet.com/Detail.aspx?id=115268 . Accessed April 19, 2007. What are arrhythmias? American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=560 . Accessed April 19, 2007.
Last reviewed April 2008 by Michael J. Fucci, DOPlease 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 medical condition.