Tachycardia

(Ventricular Tachycardia; Supraventricular Tachycardia; Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia)

Definition

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, call for emergency medical services right away.
Electrical System and Chambers of the Heart
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Causes

This condition is caused by abnormal electrical impulses that control the heart.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of tachycardia include:
  • Heart disease, especially a prior heart attack
  • Cardiomyopathy —damage to the muscle wall of the lower chambers of the heart
  • 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

Symptoms

Tachycardia may cause:
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fast heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting or near fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

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