Treatment Of Fast Heart Rate
Treat the Underlying Cause: 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 require 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 reason underlying must be sought out. If the fast heart rate is thought to be from a cardiac cause 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 prevent the occurrence of the arrhythmia in the first place may be prescribed, known as anti-arrhythmic medications. Specialists known as electrophysiologists typically prescribe anti-arrhythmic medications.
When To Seek Help
The burning question remains: What symptoms are worrisome enough that you should you see your doctor?
“If you notice that you have an elevated heart rate while at rest consistently above 100 beats per minute but you aren’t sick, exercising or stressed it is important to let your doctor know,” Dr. Ungerleider warns. “If you are experiencing shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting, fluttering in your chest or chest pain, this could be related to a problem with your heart.”
When Heart Rate Or Rhythm Changes Are More Serious
Irregular heartbeats change the amount of blood that flows to the lungs and other parts of the body. The amount of blood that the heart pumps may be decreased when the heart pumps too slow or too fast.
Changes such as atrial fibrillation that start in the upper chambers of the heart can be serious, because they increase your risk of forming blood clots in your heart. This in turn can increase your risk for having a stroke or a blood clot in your lungs . People who have heart disease, heart failure, or a history of heart attack should be more concerned with any changes in their usual heart rhythm or rate.
Fast heart rhythms that begin in the lower chambers of the heart are called ventricular arrhythmias. They include ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. These types of heart rhythms make it hard for the heart to pump enough blood to the brain or the rest of the body and can be life-threatening. Ventricular arrhythmias may be caused by heart disease such as heart valve problems, impaired blood flow to the heart muscle , a weakened heart muscle , or heart failure.
Symptoms of ventricular tachycardia include palpitations, feeling dizzy or light-headed, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, and fainting or near-fainting. Ventricular fibrillation may cause fainting within seconds and causes death if not treated. Emergency medical treatment may include medicines and electrical shock .
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
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Symptoms Of Atrial Fibrillation
In atrial fibrillation, the heart rate is irregular and can sometimes be very fast. In some cases, it can be considerably higher than 100 beats a minute.
You may be aware of noticeable heart palpitations, where your heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly, often for a few seconds or, in some cases, a few minutes.
Sometimes atrial fibrillation does not cause any symptoms and a person who has it is completely unaware that their heart rate is irregular.
What Causes A Racing Heart
Normal hearts beat 60100 times every minute. When your heart beats more than 100 times each minute, thats considered high . Fast heartbeats can last for seconds to hours.
Not all cases of a racing heartbeat are dangerous. Many everyday situations that arent related to heart problems can cause your heart to race. These can include the following:
- heavy exercise
If your doctor thinks you may have one of these conditions, your doctor may give you an EKG, a chest X-ray, or an echocardiogram to diagnose whats wrong.
Next Steps & Resources:
- Meet our source: Riple Hansalia, M.D. To make an appointment with Dr. Hansalia or a doctor near you, call or visit our website.
- Learn more about comprehensive cardiac care close to home
- Contact our COVID Recovery Center if youre experiencing long-haul COVID symptoms.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.
How Are Heart Palpitations Diagnosed
Your doctor will talk to you about how the palpitations start , how long they last, how often they happen and any other symptoms you may have and your family history.
They may send you for further testing, including an electrocardiogram to measure your hearts electrical activity. This may be done by wearing a Holter monitor, a device that you wear for 24 hours while going about your normal activities.
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Why Foods Cause Heart Palpitations
Feeling palpitations after eating is a relatively common experience, which tends to occur when a substance in your food or drinkor your bodys natural biochemical response to that substancejolts the hearts electrical system and causes fluttering sensations, skipped beats, or a feeling that your heart is beating too hard or too fast.
Coffee drinkers, think about the last time you drank one cup too many. You know what I mean!
If your heart is healthy and you have no history of arrhythmia or heart diseaseand youre not experiencing any other symptomstheres little need to worry about an occasional episode of these irregular beats. For people who do have arrhythmias or cardiac issues, however, its a different story. Palpitations caused by food can cause an existing disruption in your hearts rhythm to escalate, and potentially lead to a major event.
Ultimately There Are Lots Of Reasons Your Heart May Be Racing
Sometimes its nothing major. Other times, especially when accompanied by symptoms like feeling lightheaded or dizzy, having chest pain, or feeling fatigue, it can be a sign that you should see a doctor. It doesnt matter how healthy you are or how healthy you think you are, Dr. Doshi says. If your heart doesnt feel right for you, its worth getting a checkup.
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Shortness Of Breath Or Chest Pain After Covid
Shortness of Breath
You want to consult a doctor if any of your symptoms are severe, especially shortness of breath, Post says. She recommends using a commercially available O2 saturation monitor.
Shortness of breath by itself is not always a sign of a serious problem, but if you have that symptom along with low O2 , that is a reason to be concerned. Sometimes people are short of breath with exertion after COVID-19 because they have been less active for a long time and need to gradually build their fitness level back up.
COVID-19 Chest Pain
What about lingering chest pain, another common post-COVID complaint? Chest pain may be nothing serious, but if you are having severe chest pain, get help, especially if it is persistent or if you are also having nausea, shortness of breath or lightheadedness: These could be symptoms of a heart attack.
If you have chest pain when you inhale, you might have lung inflammation. Sudden, severe chest pain could be a blood clot in the lung , Post says.
Family doctor or cardiologist?
If your symptoms are not severe but you want to be checked out, Post says a cardiologist doesnt need to be your first stop if youve never had heart problems before and are not at risk. For nonemergency post-COVID-19 symptoms, your primary care practitioner can advise you, she says.
Heart Failure and COVID-19
- Shortness of breath, especially with exertion
- Shortness of breath when lying down
- Leg swelling
- Frequent urination at night
You Have A Heart Arrhythmia
A heart arrhythmia happens when theres some sort of electrical malfunction in your heart, which can cause it to beat irregularly. There are many forms, and they have different causes, but they can often make it feel like your heart is beating quickly or strangely out of nowhere. Although an arrhythmia sounds like a dire diagnosis from Greys Anatomy, they actually arent always serious. Many arrhythmias are not life-threatening, Dr. Mills-Frazier says. Obviously with higher-risk patients, they can be, but theyre often treatable. Arrhythmias often present with side effects like dizziness, nausea, fainting, chest pain, and shortness of breath, according to the American Heart Association.
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Research On Heart Problems After Covid
Research shows that there is still a lot to learn about lasting heart effects on people who have had COVID-19. In some cases, patients are left with signs of heart damage that may call for continued monitoring.
Post cites a German study in which cardiac MRIs were conducted on 100 people who had the coronavirus and survived. The researchers saw abnormal findings in 78 of these patients. Compared with those who had not had COVID-19, these patients showed evidence of scarring and inflammation of the heart muscle and its surrounding tissue . However, this study was limited by the lack of an appropriate comparison group, and subsequent studies have found a much lower incidence of myocarditis in those who had a prior COVID-19 infection.
Another small study assessed 26 college athletes who had COVID-19 with mild symptoms or none at all. Cardiac MRI showed that these students had normal EKGs and normal levels of a substance called troponin, which when elevated can indicate heart problems. Four of them had heart muscle inflammation , and two of these had inflammation of the pericardium .
Post says these data have to be considered carefully, since the sample sizes are small, and the pre-COVID heart health of the participants wasnt known.
Be Still My Heart: How A Heart Rhythm Specialist Can Help
When this happens, electrophysiologists first try and slow theheart rate using medicines, Dr. Taigen says. But these medicines, known asbeta-blockers or calcium channel blockers, can also drop the blood pressure,he notes. Quite often, theres not much room for blood pressure to go lower.
If your blood pressure is too low for medications, aprocedure called direct current cardioversion can get the rhythm back tonormal.
With this procedure, we put pads on the front and back of the chest and sedate the patient for a minute or two, Dr. Taigen explains. When they are asleep, we deliver a shock that stops the heart from beating irregularly, so the natural heartbeat resumes.Once the heart rhythm is back to normal, anelectrophysiologist determines if a more permanent treatment is needed. Thesecould include:
- Ablation: This procedure uses cold orheat energy to stop faulty electrical signals.
- Pacemaker: Doctors place a small deviceunder the skin to send electrical impulses that change the heart rhythm.
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator :Like a pacemaker, the ICD works by detecting and stopping faulty heart rhythmswith electrical signals.
- Surgery: Surgeons create scar tissue withincisions to permanently interrupt faulty electrical pathways in the heart.
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Your Thyroid Is In Overdrive
Your thyroid gland produces various hormones, like thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which affect a ton of your bodys systems, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you have hyperthyroidism, your thyroid is overactive and produces too much thyroxine, which in turn speeds up your bodys metabolism too much. This can result in a rapid or irregular heartbeat, along with symptoms like an increased appetite and sudden weight loss. There are plenty of medications out there to treat hyperthyroidism, including beta blockers to specifically address your quick heart rate.
Does This Really Matter If Youve Finally Got Low Blood Pressure
Heart rhythm problems that affect the upper heart chamber can put you at an increased risk for stroke, heart failure or death. Heres why:
If youre diagnosed with an irregular heart rhythm, you may need to take blood-thinning medications, plus one of the treatments above, to decrease your risk of stroke. Your doctor can help you get the right care to keep everything steady and stable so the only time your heart is racing is while youre watching Stranger Things.
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When Is This Combo Not A Big Deal
Sometimes blood pressure and high heart rate occurs momentarily. For example, Dr. Taigen explains, when we stand up:
However, that phenomenon is short-lived. When the heart rate stays consistently high while blood pressure is low, there may be something problematic going on.
How Are Heart Palpitations Treated
Treatment of heart palpitations depends on what is causing them. Usually, there will be no treatment as the palpitations arent serious.
If you have a heart condition like an arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation, you may be sent to a specialist for treatment with medications, surgery or an implantable device.
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Treating A Fast Resting Heart Rate
How tachycardia is treated depends on what’s causing it, Dr. Ungerleider says. “If you have a medical condition that causes an abnormally fast heart rate, there are various medications that a doctor may prescribe to lower the rate, including beta blockers, calcium channel blockers or digoxin,” she says.
“Also, if you have an underlying medical condition that causes elevated heart rate, treating the underlying medical problem can lower your heart rate,” she adds.
If stress and anxiety are causing your heart to race, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, that could signal an anxiety disorder and may be worth seeking professional help especially if your anxiety worsens over time and interferes with daily activities like relationships, school and work. Treatment may include medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help you change patterns of thoughts, behaviors and reactions to your fears, the NIMH explains.
If your rapid resting heart rate is exacerbated by your beverage choices, cutting back might be your best bet. For instance, drinking too much alcohol can be a culprit when it comes to a fast resting heart rate, according to a 2017 review article published in Alcohol Research. And according to the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, if you consume alcohol, you should do so in moderation defined as no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink daily for women.
Types And Causes Of Tachycardia
The rapid heart rate of tachycardia isnt necessarily serious, but it can be treated, if necessary, depending on what is causing it. Heres a breakdown:
- Sinus tachycardiaThis is the totally normal, bounding-heart feeling we get when upset, or during or after exercise. The heart is beating correctly, just fast.
- Supraventricular tachycardia This type of fast pulse originates in the atria, the upper chambers of the heart. The electrical impulses that regulate your heartbeat short-circuit, resulting in a fast heart rate. SVT is the most common cause of heart rhythm problems in children it is also linked with anxiety, fatigue, drinking lots of caffeine or alcohol, and smoking. SVT isnt often serious, and lifestyle modifications or medications may help to reduce episodes.
- Ventricular tachycardiaVentricular tachycardia originates in the lower chambers of the heart, or ventricles, and can be serious. As with SVT, with ventricular tachycardia, the electrical impulse that regulates the heart rate misfires, causing a fast rhythm. This often occurs in people who already have a heart condition, such as cardiomyopathy, or weakened heart muscles. It can also be caused by some medications and illegal substances, like cocaine. Depending on the cause, ventricular tachycardia may be treated with medication or surgery.
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You Have An Anxiety Disorder
Theres also a chance youre dealing with something more than typical everyday stress like we talked about above. Persistent, excessive worry might signal one of several anxiety disorders, like generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or separation anxiety disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic. While each of these anxiety disorders manifests in different ways , they have a few very important symptoms in commonincluding a racing heart.
A racing heart could also be a sign of a panic attack, which are episodes of extreme anxiety common in anxiety disorders, especially panic disorder. Panic attacks are characterized by sudden, unexpected, often paralyzing bouts of fear, and panic disorder happens when a person experiences recurrent, sudden attacks that leave them scared to have another one. A rapid heartbeat is a common panic attack symptom, and it can terrify people even more. You start releasing more adrenaline, and it becomes this vicious cycle, Dr. Mills-Frazier says, adding that sometimes its difficult to tease out whether a rapid heartbeat contributes to someone having a panic attack or vice versa. If you think youre having panic attacks, dont suffer in silence. Talk to your doctor or therapist to figure out which treatment option can best help you avoid these awful episodes.