Introduction to Tachycardia
Tachycardia is a term related to the rate of heartbeat. Tachyarrhythmia is another name for it. It is a condition in which the heartbeat goes around or above 100 beats per minute, even when the person is at rest. Usually, the heart of a healthy adult human being beats around 72 times per minute.
Although, it is perfectly okay for the heartbeat to go up while exercising, running, having a shock, being under stress, or suffering from any cardiac disease. In these case, a higher beating of the heart is considered pretty normal.
But, in tachycardia, the heart keeps beating faster continuously, even when the person is completely at rest or doing normal activities. This is a critical cardiac condition which needs immediate attention or it may prove to be fatal.
What Happens in Tachycardia
The human heart has four chambers. There are two upper and two lower chambers, that is atria and ventricles respectively. Our right atrium has a natural pacemaker called Sinus Node. It is responsible for the controlled beating rate. The Sinus Node sends electrical signals the muscles of the heart and regulates the heartbeat.
When due to any reason, any abnormality occurs in the transmission of these electrical impulses, then the heart rate fluctuates. If it rises and stays above the normal rate for a very long time, it leads to tachycardia. The major problem associated with a faster heartbeat is that it doesn’t give the heart enough time to efficiently fill the ventricles with blood, disrupting the blood supply to the whole body.
Causes of Tachycardia
The question is why the electric signals get disturbed? There can be many reasons accountable for such an abnormality.
Congenital Cardiac Disease
Any congenital cardiac problem, for example, abnormalities in the heart muscles, improper functioning of cardiac valves, or growth of tumors and other kinds of infections in the heart majorly contribute to tachycardia.
Heavy exercising that the body is not able to take comfortably is one of the reasons why a person may build the condition of tachycardia over the time.
Medications for the treatment of some chronic illnesses are so hard, that they begin to interfere with the functioning of heart because of one or the other reason. A long-term use of such medicines may lead to the malfunctioning of the heart and disrupt the rhythm of the electric signals of heart, causing tachycardia.
Regular and prolonged alcohol consumption does definitely affect the health of our heart. Apart from ruining the liver functioning, there are quite many possibilities of giving rise to tachycardia.
Whether it is a sudden emotional shock or some history of prolonged stress, the heart takes it all. Feeling low, going into depression, or facing a tragedy that one finds hard to deal with will eventually contribute to condition like tachycardia.
Poor Health Conditions
If a person has conditions like high or low blood pressure or is suffering from diseases like anemia, then also there are fair chances of occurrence of tachycardia. Having hyperthyroidism also contributes to developing tachycardia.
Drug abuse is not just related to dizziness and mental problems. It can have direct and severe implication on the working of our heart. Strong drugs like cocaine, heroin are certain ways to impact the healthy heart, resulting in tachycardia.
Effects of Tachycardia
There are a few symptoms which can tell if a person is really on the verge of having or is already suffering from tachycardia.
Change in Breathing
Constantly finding oneself running short of breath without any particular reason is one of the key effects of tachycardia. Due to these short breathing patterns, it becomes very obvious for the person to have palpitation as well.
In tachycardia, one would be dealing with an abnormally fast pulse rate. As the heart is not able to pump enough blood in one systole, it automatically increases the pulse to compensate for the bodily needs.
Low Blood Pressure
When there is an insufficient supply of blood to the body, the person is bound to feel a low blood pressure.
Sometimes, the above symptoms are followed by a mild pain in the chest. The pain happens due to irregular electrical impulses running through the heart muscles.
A lightheadedness or weakness can also be felt simultaneously. There would be a little dizziness and a feeling of fainting too.
In extreme cases, where the heart can beat as fast as up to 400 times per minutes, cardiac arrest may happen. The chances of a heart attack are, however, very rare.
Treatment of Tachycardia
For the treatment of tachycardia/ arrhythmia, doctors can use one or more methods mentioned below.
These are natural steps recommended by doctors, that the patient can take by himself. For example, coughing, using an ice pack on facial muscles or creating some pressure in the body. Such measures are only helpful in case of upper chamber tachycardia.
Sometimes, a small amount of electric shock is given to set the pace of heart back to normal. The process is known as cardioversion.
If there is any extra electrical nerve which is causing tachycardia, then, a catheter is inserted into the body to the heart, which later destroys the extra nerve and treats arrhythmia.
Medications too can help a lot, depending on the severity and cause of tachycardia. In severe cases, a doctor may also give an injection for immediate relief.
In some cases, surgery becomes necessary in order to treat the irregular heartbeats. Some examples are coronary bypass surgery, open heart surgery, and maze procedure.
Quitting alcohol and cigarettes, taking medicines, reducing caffeine intake, having a stress-free life, are some of the ways which can greatly help in dealing with tachycardia. One should maintain a healthy diet, avoid junk foods and cold drinks, and meditate to keep the body and mind healthy. Apart from that, including a daily session of light exercises in the routine is very helpful too.