What is tachycardia?It should be noted that tachycardia of more than 100 beats per minute is normal. Especially during physical exertion, this heart rate is reached quickly. © Robert Kneschke - stock.adobe.com
Tachycardia is an accelerated heartbeat in the chest. Some patients also describe it as a fast pulse, which can be both frantic and throbbing. Not infrequently sufferers feel this feeling down to the throat.
Medically determined is the tachycardia only from a plus of more than 100 beats per minute. In the special form of the heart, the ventricular tachycardia, the cause comes directly from the heart chambers. In this case, a doctor should be consulted quickly. There is also supraventricular tachycardia. This feels very uncomfortable for the patient, but is generally harmless. Here is the cause to locate above the heart chambers. Nevertheless, it is advisable to consult with heart racing, regardless of genesis, the family doctor or a cardiologist.
As a rule, tachycardia is considered a symptom of another, underlying, disease. Sometimes it can also be a disease itself. The most common causes of tachycardia, however, are mostly mundane body processes, such as anxiety, stress, arousal, and joy. But also psychosomatic causes can cause a tachycardia.
Tachycardia of over 100 beats per minute are usually quite natural. Especially with physical exertion and sport, this heart rate is reached quickly. The infant's heart rate may be over 100 even when not in the resting state without this being pathological.
In most cases, heartbeat is safe and occurs in anticipation, excitement or stressful situations. After calming, however, the tachycardia quickly disappear again.
However, sometimes tachycardia or a rapid heartbeat may also be signs of a more extensive illness, which should always be examined by a doctor.
Especially diseases of the heart, such as atrial fibrillation (see coronary heart disease), valvular heart disease, myocardial diseases or cardiac arrhythmia often lead to palpitations and should necessarily be clinically diagnosed and treated. Here, the heart palpitations or tachycardia is caused by the heart itself, for example, by additional channels, other disorders in the conduction system or circulatory disorders in the heart muscle.
Also diseases of the thyroid as well as caffeine, nicotine and medications can cause tachycardia. Tachycardia caused by a hyperthyroidism act through the hormones or neurotransmitters on the conduction system or the heart muscle. Other possible causes of tachycardia include hypertension, hypotension, low blood sugar and anemia.
A special case of tachycardia may also be congenital or inherited tachycardia. This leads to a disturbed conduction of the heart and can be treated by surgery. Even in the course of anxiety disorders tachycardia is often observed.
Tachycardia or palpitations may also be accompanied by other symptoms. These include dizziness, heart stumbling, drowsiness, unconsciousness as well as speech and visual disturbances.
Diseases with this symptom
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart attack
- pulmonary embolism
- ventricular fibrillation
- heart failure
- anxiety disorder
- fear of heights
- Dental phobia
- high blood pressure
- blood poisoning
Diagnosis & History
The cause (s) of palpitations and a possible need for treatment are diagnosed by a specialist (eg a cardiologist) in various examination steps:
First, the physician usually asks the time of first-time heart rasa, possible triggering situations (eg stress), concomitant complaints, pre- or underlying diseases (such as cardiac arrhythmia) as well as current medication revenues.
Further examination steps then include blood samples, pulse and blood pressure measurements and, if necessary, ECGs (electrocardiograms), ultrasound examinations or X-rays.
Depending on the cause of the heart, the latter often occurs suddenly (often accompanied by dizziness / sweating). Physically caused tachycardia usually increases steadily in the course or persists constantly, while psychic causes often manifest themselves in a relapsing heart attack.
Similar to diseases of the circulation and the respiratory tract, the tachycardia also worsens in the course of the disease. Since the symptoms disappear only in rare cases by themselves, there is a worsening of the general condition. These are often more serious problems that require the intervention of a doctor.
If not acted in time, it can lead to dizziness and sweats, a circulatory collapse or a heart attack. Physical tachycardia is also associated with a strong internal restlessness, caused by the chronically accelerated pulse and accompanying symptoms such as the known stinging in the heart and chest. Mentally caused palpitations occur in spurts, but also increases during the course. Although the course is rarely fatal, however, the fast-beating heart and the symptoms associated with it severely limit the quality of life.
Particularly distressing for those affected can be anxiety attacks, which in turn favor the development of other diseases. On the other hand, an early diagnosis makes an accelerated pulse easy to treat. The complaints are usually due to more harmless causes and can be treated dietary measures and light medication. The course of palpitations depends so much on when the complaints are detected and what causes them. In the treatment itself, complications rarely occur.
When should you go to the doctor?Tachycardia can be benign, but also malignant. In any case, a doctor should always be consulted. © Robert Kneschke - stock.adobe.com
Tachycardia as a symptom can have a harmless but also very serious background. Sport, physical work, stress and excitement cause tachycardia. After some time it lays down again by itself. The occasion for a doctor's visit would be given here only if the tachycardia occurs clearly earlier in such situations or lasts longer than usual.
Tachycardia may also be due to organic disease. An increased heart rate or tachycardia run under the technical term tachycardia. Medically, rapid heart rate is defined from a heart rate of 150 beats per minute upwards.
Some people naturally have a faster heartbeat. Often, however, the tachycardia is based on a disease. Heart disease such as coronary heart disease and diseases of the heart muscle or heart valves can also cause tachycardia as a cardiac arrhythmia. As the heart is virtually the motor of life, heart racing should always be clarified by a doctor, if there is none of the trigger as mentioned above.
The cause of tachycardia may be due to another disease besides the heart itself. Especially high or low blood pressure, anemia, low blood sugar and hyperthyroidism are often accompanied by palpitations. Tachycardia can also be an effect of caffeine and nicotine consumption and medication. Vision disorders, dizziness, drowsiness and unconsciousness can be symptoms of palpitations and cause for a visit to a doctor.
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Treatment & Therapy
First of all, the doctor should find out if it is harmless palpitations or if the causes are due to illness. The doctor will try to inquire about the background of the tachycardia. In doing so, he explicitly addresses family stress and occupational burdens and also asks potential pre-existing conditions and other complaints. Furthermore, he can provide information about which medications are taken and whether cardiac arrhythmias or heart stumbling occur.
Thereafter, blood is usually taken, blood pressure and pulse measured. An electrocardiogram (ECG) is also performed. If the causes of the palpitations are already recognizable or if no precise diagnosis can be established, further examinations will be carried out. These include long-term ECG, exercise ECG, ultrasound examination as well as any long-term blood pressure measurement and X-rays.
Now, if the cause of the tachycardia is found out, it will be treated. Are mental stress such as stress the cause is recommended relaxation and stress avoidance. Especially the autogenic training is promising. Natural tranquilizers, such as valerian, can also help. However, you should always be associated with fighting the stress only and have been approved by the doctor. Smoking and a lot of coffee should be stopped.
Atrial fibrillation and cardiac arrhythmias should be treated with medication. Pacemaker may also be advisable. In hyperthyroidism, this should be treated to eliminate palpitations.
Outlook & Forecast
Benign tachycardia, the patient can usually influence even positive, otherwise, a drug treatment can provide relief. In the treatment of certain forms of tachycardia, the administration of beta-blockers has been reinforced. The same applies to sclerotherapy using catheter ablation. If the tachycardia is due to atrial fibrillation, the heartbeat can be reduced by using beta-blockers or antiarrhythmic drugs. The increased risk of thrombosis is combated with anticoagulants.
If ventricular fibrillation is responsible for the tachycardia, there is an acute danger to life. A defibrillator that emits a strong electrical impulse or a punch on the chest can interrupt the hyperactive conduction, thus generating a slower heartbeat. The patient usually has to undergo surgery in these cases promptly.
If the psyche is the trigger for the racing heart, sedatives such as benzodiazepines can help, which, however, usually have to be taken long-term. With the help of relaxation techniques such as yoga or autogenic training, the patient can learn to stay calm in exceptional emotional situations. He will then no longer respond immediately to tachycardia in stressful situations.
Tachycardia, which is not pathological, can be well prevented by a healthy, stress-free life with lots of exercise, fresh air, healthy nutrition and abstinence from smoking and alcohol. Preventive is also the autogenic training, which not only serves as a reassurance but can also bring more relaxation in everyday life. In some patients suffering from psychosomatic symptoms, such as palpitations, the long-term use of valerian tincture has sustainably helped.
↳ Further information: Home remedies for tachycardia
You can do that yourself
In case of sudden palpitations, a light massage on the neck can improve the symptoms. With the index and middle fingers, those points on both sides of the neck are gently massaged, at which the pulse of the carotid artery is felt.
In doing so, the patient should sit or lie down, because the massage not only makes the tachycardia disappear, but also reduces the blood pressure. In the process, the carotid sinus nerve is stimulated on the internal carotid artery, whose pressure receptors are responsible for measuring blood pressure in the artery. By increasing the pressure, electrical impulses are directed to the brain, whereupon the circulation responds by slowing the heart rate and decreasing blood pressure.
Helpful may be the locking of the nose and mouth while exhaling. Doctors refer to this method as Valsalva maneuver, researched by the same Italian physician. It comes to a strong tension in the area of the respiratory and abdominal muscles as well as increased air pressure in the airways. The result is a lower blood volume in the right ventricle, resulting in a lower stroke volume. The procedure may only be carried out for ten seconds, otherwise there is a risk of a circulatory collapse. However, a doctor should be consulted beforehand.
If the patient frequently complains of racing heart, it is advisable to abstain from coffee and nicotine. In addition, stress should be avoided, instead worthwhile long walks in the wild, and after consultation with the attending physician a lot of sports and exercise.
No stress: The most common cause of tachycardia is stress. Try to relax, go for a walk in the fresh air or do moderate sports such as jogging or strength exercises. Autogenic training, yoga and progressive muscle relaxation complete the anti-stress methods.
No stimulants: refrain from coffee, caffeinated drinks and do not smoke. Avoid alcohol.
Cold Drink: Drink a cold soda water and then puff it up. This method is similar to the Valsalva maneuver and can stem tachycardia.
Valsalva Maneuver: Hold your nose and close your mouth. Then try to exhale slowly through the mouth. The resulting pressure in the chest slows the heartbeat and thus reduces the sensation of the heart.
Massaging the neck: Feel your pulse on the carotid artery with two fingers. By gently massaging the local carotid sinus nerve, the pulse can slow down. Since the blood pressure can drop as well, this exercise should be performed after consulting a doctor while lying down.
Deep Breathing: Breathe in and out slowly. As is known, this can be quiet and the heart palpitations are reduced.