Fast Heart Rate – Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Fast Heart Rate – Symptoms, Causes and Treatments(Best Cardiologist in Bhopal ) 


A fast heart rate is known as tachycardia and usually defined as a heart rate larger than 100 beats per minute. Although a fast heart rate is usually defined as a heart rate greater than 100 beats per minute, there is no specific cut off for what defines a significantly fast heart rate or a number above which a fast heart rate becomes an issue. Each case is different and needs to be approached differently. Articles on usual heart rate and low heart rate are linked here.

What Causes A Fast Heart Rate?

The heart rate can be fast for reason inside the heart or cause outside the heart. The electrical system of the heart itself can ground a fast heart rate if there are ‘short circuits’ that happen within it. These are known as tachyarrhythmias. These can happen from the top chamber or the bottom chamber of the heart. Fast heart rates from the top chamber of the heart are known as supraventricular tachycardia or SVT for short. They can be regular or irregular. One of the most ordinary causes for a fast heart rate, especially if irregular in nature is known as atria fibrillation or AF for short. Fast heart rates that happen from the bottom chamber of the heart are known as ventricular tachycardia or VT for short. These are usually regular in nature. Ventricular Tachycardia is considered more concerning in general than other causes of fast heart rate and needs prompt work up and attention.

The heart rate may be fast minimally as a reaction to other processes going on in the body. For example, if the body is under stress from pain, infection, blood loss or general illness then the heart rate may enlarge significantly, often to provide blood to vital organs. When someone has pain, there is an increase in secretion of stress hormones that directly increases heart rate through acting on receptors in the heart. There may be problems with hormones such as overproduction of thyroid hormone that may lead to increase in heart rate. When the body is in shock, is it for cause from inside or outside the heart, the heart rate will increase significantly? For example if the heart function is severely impaired and the amount of blood being pumped out per beat is therefore reduced, the heart attempts to compensate by increasing the rate. Finally it’s essential to note that ingestion of substances such as stimulants that would directly increase heart rate need to be ruled out as a cause of fast heart rate.

Symptoms of a Fast Heart Rate

Many people don’t have sign when they find out they have a fast heart rate. They often just notice it when checking their pulse rate, or from a blood pressure machine or a Fit bit type accessory. Some patients may feel tired, short of breath, dizzy or fatigued. If the heart rate is particularly fast people may notice a thumping sensation or palpitations. If the heart rate is particularly fast, there may be a sensation of light-headedness or feeling of faintness. In the case of SVT that comes and goes at unpredictable times, there may be intermittent palpitations and light-headedness. When the palpitations come on, some patients may have associated chest pain that on occasion can point to underlying heart artery disease. If the palpitations are more serious, people may pass out as a result.

Treatment of Fast Heart Rate

Treat the Underlying reason: Most important is to ensure there is no underlying systemic problem that is causing the fast heart rate. If there is anemia, for example, that will need to be treated. Infection and dehydration would need to be treated. Hormonal imbalances would need treating. Medications will be reviewed and any potential offending agents will need to be stopped if possible.

Medications: It is important not just to treat a number; the cause underlying must be sought out. If the fast heart rate is thought to be from a cardiac reason then the appropriate treatment should be given. If there is significant muscle dysfunction then treatment aimed at strengthening the heart is given. If there are problems with the electrical system of the heart then medicines to slow the rate may be given such a beta blockers or calcium channel blockers. In some cases stronger medicines that stop the occurrence of the arrhythmia in the first place may be prescribed, known as anti-arrhythmic medications. Specialists known as electro physiologists typically prescribe anti-arrhythmic medications.

Procedures: If the fast heart rate is felt to be a primary cardiac arrhythmia then actions may be required, particularly if medications do not work. In the case of SVT, procedures known as ablation can be particularly effectual. In patients with Atria fibrillation an ablation procedure may be useful if medicines aren’t effective and indication is present. VT may also be treated in this manner. Ablation procedures are performed by electro physiologists, who are cardiologists specializing in the electrical system of the heart.

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