Diseases & Conditions
Easy-to-understand answers about diseases and conditions
Tachycardia, pronounced as tak-ih-KAHR-dee-uh, refers to a condition where the heart rate exceeds 100 beats per minute. Various types of irregular heart rhythms, known as arrhythmias, can be responsible for causing tachycardia. It’s important to note that a rapid heart rate is not always a cause for immediate concern. For example, during physical exertion or in response to stress, the heart rate naturally increases. While tachycardia can sometimes be asymptomatic and free of complications, certain forms of this condition, if left untreated, can potentially give rise to serious health complications. These may include conditions like heart failure, stroke, or even sudden cardiac death. Managing tachycardia typically involves a range of approaches. These may encompass specific maneuvers, medication regimens, cardioversion procedures, or in some cases, surgical interventions. These interventions are aimed at effectively controlling and regulating an excessively rapid heartbeat. Various Types of Tachycardia Tachycardia exists in a multitude of forms, each with distinct characteristics. Sinus tachycardia is a common type, marked by an expected elevation in heart rate, frequently induced by physical exertion or stress. The array of tachycardia types is categorized based on the cardiac region responsible for the accelerated heart rate and its underlying cause. Among the prevalent tachycardia forms attributed to irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) are:
- Atrial Fibrillation (A-fib): This stands as the most frequent tachycardia variation. A surge of disorderly, irregular electrical signals originating in the heart’s upper chambers (atria) results in a rapid heartbeat. While some instances of A-fib may be transient, others persist until treated effectively.
- Atrial Flutter: Similar to A-fib, atrial flutter showcases a more organized pattern of heartbeats. These episodes may spontaneously resolve or necessitate medical intervention. A notable correlation often exists between atrial flutter and concomitant instances of atrial fibrillation.
- Ventricular Tachycardia: Emerging within the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles), this arrhythmia impedes proper ventricular filling and contraction, hindering adequate blood circulation. While brief episodes may have minimal impact, those persisting for more than a few seconds pose life-threatening risks.
- Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT): Encompassing arrhythmias originating above the ventricles, SVT manifests as sudden, forceful heartbeats (palpitations) commencing and concluding abruptly.
- Ventricular Fibrillation: Characterized by swift and chaotic electrical signals, ventricular fibrillation elicits a quivering of the ventricles, rather than a coordinated contraction. Swift restoration of normal heart rhythm is critical, as prolonged ventricular fibrillation can lead to fatal consequences. Typically, this condition is associated with underlying heart disease or severe trauma.