What is tachycardia arrhythmia?

Tachycardia arrhythmia, also referred to as tachycardia, is an abnormally fast heartbeat of more than 100 beats a minute.

If left untreated, tachycardia can cause serious complications, including blood clots, heart failure, frequent fainting spells or sudden death.

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Atrial Flutter Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome

Types of tachycardia include:

  • Sinus tachycardia — often the body’s normal response to situations such as stress, anxiety or distress; can be caused by conditions such as anemia, low blood pressure or thyroid disease.
  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF) — irregular heartbeat associated with heart disease, overactive thyroid or alcoholism.
  • Atrial flutter — an arrhythmia similar to atrial fibrillation yet less serious.
  • Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) or paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) — Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is the leading cause of SVT in children or young adults.
  • Ventricular tachycardia (VT) — a ventricular electrical abnormality where the ventricles poorly fill with blood.
  • Ventricular fibrillation (VF) — ventricles fail to pump blood at all during rapid rhythm.

Causes of tachycardia arrhythmia

Tachycardia can be caused by factors that disrupt the electrical impulses of the heart. Factors that contribute to electrical system problems include:
  • Congenital abnormality of the heart
  • Anemia
  • Exercise
  • Sudden stress
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Fever
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Imbalance of electrolytes
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

Risk factors for tachycardia arrhythmia

Conditions that can strain the heart increase the likelihood of developing tachycardia. Conditions include:
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Heavy caffeine use
  • Anemia
  • Use of illicit drugs
  • Psychological stress or anxiety
People are also more likely to develop tachycardia as they age or if they have a family history of the condition.

Symptoms of tachycardia arrhythmia

Symptoms of tachycardia include:
  • Palpitations
  • Heart racing or pounding
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Abnormally fast heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Diagnosis of tachycardia arrhythmia

  • Electrocardiogram
  • Exercise stress test
  • Radiofrequency ablation

Treatment for tachycardia arrhythmia

  • Medication
  • Cardiac pacemaker
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator
  • Electrical cardioversion
  • Surgical ablation

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