Tachycardia is characterised by an abnormally high heart rate, exceeding the typical range of 60 to 100 beats per minute in adults. While a higher heart rate doesn't always suggest heart disease, it can be indicative of various other health conditions.

Causes and Risk Factors of Tachycardia

Several factors can trigger tachycardia, including lifestyle and medical conditions:

  • Physical activities like sports or exercise
  • Blood-related conditions such as anaemia
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Febrile illnesses
  • Psychological stress or anxiety
  • Insufficient rest
  • Consumption of alcohol or caffeinated beverages
  • Smoking habits
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Use of recreational drugs like cocaine

Internal cardiac causes often involve abnormal electrical signals in the heart, leading to conditions such as:

  • Atrial or Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Ventricular Tachycardia or Ventricular Fibrillation

Symptoms to Watch For

Common symptoms associated with tachycardia include:

  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort or tightness
  • Syncope or fainting spells

Diagnosis and Testing Approaches

Diagnosis involves a comprehensive evaluation, including:

  • Detailed family and personal medical history
  • Physical examination focusing on chronic conditions and lifestyle factors
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Holter monitoring for intermittent symptoms
  • Exercise Stress Test (EST)
  • Echocardiogram (ECG)
  • Cardiac Electrophysiology Study

Effective Treatment Strategies

Treatment depends on the underlying cause and severity:

  • Lifestyle modifications for non-cardiac causes
  • Medication for conditions like hyperthyroidism
  • Specific treatments for cardiac-related tachycardia, such as:
    • Medication to regulate heart rhythm
    • Cardioversion
    • Radiofrequency ablation therapy
    • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) for severe cases like ventricular fibrillation

Potential Complications to Consider

Untreated tachycardia can lead to serious complications, including:

  • Frequent dizziness or fainting
  • Blood clot formation, particularly in atrial fibrillation
  • Heart failure
  • Risk of sudden death, especially in ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation

Prevention Tips

Proactive measures to prevent tachycardia encompass:

  • Avoiding known risk factors (e.g., caffeine, alcohol, smoking, stress)
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Regular physical activity
  • Routine health screenings