Is A Fast Heart Rate Always A Cause For Concern
There are several different possible causes of an elevated heart rate. While some causes are more worrisome to cardiologists, there are other causes that can be addressed by making lifestyle changes. Some of these include excitement , dehydration, and even the consumption of nicotine or energy drinks.
There are times that having an elevated heart rate makes sense. For instance, if you are fighting a fever or getting over the flu, or are in the process of recovering from a surgery, a fast heart rate is your bodys way of saying it is working. Its important to monitor your heart rate during these times, but do not become immediately alarmed.
What Are The Possible Causes
Tachycardia is usually caused by anything that creates a problem with the electrical impulses, which control rate of the pumping action of the heart. There are multiple things that can disrupt the electrical system of the heart. Some of these are:
- Damage to tissues of the heart due to heart disease
- Congenital disease or abnormality of heart
- Electrical pathways that are not normal and present in the heart at birth
- Low or high blood pressure
- Sudden stress, for instance fright
- Drinking excessive caffeine containing beverages
- Side effects of medicines
- Recreational drug abuse, such as cocaine
- Electrolyte imbalance
In certain cases, the cause of sudden increase in heart rate cant exactly be found.
The risk of getting tachycardia is increased by any condition, which strains the heart or causes damage to the tissues of the heart. Medical treatment or lifestyle changes may lower the risk that is increased by the below mentioned factors:
- High blood pressure
- Underactive or overactive thyroid gland
- Use of drugs of recreation
Certain other factors, which may raise your risk of getting tachycardia, are:
- Older age: Elderly are at an increased risk of getting tachycardia due to wear and tear of the heart related to age.
- Family: Positive family history of heart rhythm disorders and tachycardia in particular increases your risk.
What Heart Rate Is Too High
Generally, for adults, a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute is considered as high.
Your heart rate usually rises when you walk fast, run, or do any strenuous physical activities.
Maximum heart rate and Target Heart Rate
Before doing any vigorous exercise, you should know your maximum heart rate and target heart rate, both of which vary by age.
Going beyond your maximum heart rate is not healthy for you. Your maximum heart rate depends on your age. This is how you can calculate it:
- Subtracting your age from the number 220 will give you your maximum heart rate. Suppose your age is 35 years, your maximum heart rate is 185 beats per minute. If your heart rate exceeds 185 beats per minute during exercise, it is dangerous for you.
- Your target heart rate zone is the range of heart rate that you should aim for if you want to become physically fit. It is calculated as 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate.
- Your target heart rate helps you to know if you are exercising at the right intensity.
- It is always better to consult your doctor before starting any vigorous exercise. This is especially important if you have diabetes, heart disease, or you are a smoker. Your doctor might advise you to lower your target heart rate by 50 percent or more.
Given below are the table showing the target heart rate zone and maximum heart rate as per age.
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When Your Heart Rate Spikes
Sometimes, your pulse might jump up for a little while. Most of the time, you heart will slow down naturally. If not, or if it happens regularly, these things can help get that number down.
Vagal maneuvers: These physical actions can reset your heart rate. For example, hold your nose and breathe out of your mouth. Itâs similar to when you want to pop your ears when youâre on an airplane. Or you can put your face in ice-cold water for several seconds or cough forcefully.
Medication: Your doctor may prescribe it to help treat an abnormal heart rate. Things like beta-blockers may help prevent future episodes.
Pacemaker: This small device can sense a rapid heartbeat. When it does, it sends an electrical signal and helps the heart return to normal. Your doctor would implant it under your skin.
Catheter ablation: Sometimes the cause of your racing pulse may be an extra electrical pathway in the heart. Your doctor would perform this procedure, which makes it so the extra circuit no longer sends signals. It doesnât require surgery. Usually, this is suggested only when medicines don’t work.
American Heart Association: âKnow your target heart rates of exercise, losing weight and health,â “Tachycardia: Fast Heart Rate,â “Ablation for Arrhythmias.”
CDC: âHealth Effects of Cigarette Smoking.â
Circulation: âFish Consumption is Associated with Lower Heart Rates.â
The Heart Foundation: âYour Heart Rate.â
âWhatâs a normal resting heart rate?â
When Heart Rate Or Rhythm Changes Are Minor
Many changes in heart rate or rhythm are minor and do not require medical treatment if you do not have other symptoms or a history of heart disease. Smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeine, or taking other stimulants such as diet pills or cough and cold medicines may cause your heart to beat faster or skip a beat. Your heart rate or rhythm can change when you are under stress or having pain. Your heart may beat faster when you have an illness or a fever. Hard physical exercise usually increases your heart rate, which can sometimes cause changes in your heart rhythm.
Natural health products, such as goldenseal, oleander, motherwort, or ephedra , may cause irregular heartbeats.
It is not uncommon for pregnant women to have minor heart rate or rhythm changes. These changes usually are not a cause for concern for women who do not have a history of heart disease.
Well-trained athletes usually have slow heart rates with occasional pauses in the normal rhythm. Evaluation is usually not needed unless other symptoms are present, such as light-headedness or fainting , or there is a family history of heart problems.
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Diagnosis Of Low Blood Pressure And High Pulse Rate
A condition involving low blood pressure and high pulse rate is often transient in nature and not likely to be diagnosed during a routine doctors visit. However, if it is due to an underlying condition, it may be reproducible through testing or have certain markers that can be identified. The following are various testing modalities that help doctors reach a diagnosis.
- Blood testing: Can provide information about blood constituents, disease markers, and other abnormalities that can affect overall health.
- Electrocardiogram : Measures the electrical activity of the heart and can identify arrhythmia such as atrial fibrillation.Echocardiogram: An imaging test that allows doctors to view the size, shape, and relative function of the heart.
- Cardiac stress test: With the use of a treadmill and ECG, the heart can be stressed to varying degrees, looking for changes in heart rate and blood pressure.
- Tilt table test: Allows for careful measurement of the heart rate and blood pressure in response to varying degrees of tilt while laying down on a table. It is often used to investigate the causes of repeated and unexplained fainting.
The Conduction System Of The Heart
The heart has its own natural pacemaker made up of a specialized collection of cells in the top chamber of the heart known as the SA node. This generates an impulse that travels through another collection of cells in the middle of the heart known as the AV node. The pathways taken by the impulses are known as the conduction system.
Problems with a low heart rate can be caused by dysfunction of the SA node, the AV node or the conduction system! It gets even more complex. The conduction system of the heart has many nerves attached to it some of these nerves decrease the rate of conduction whereas others increase the rate of conduction. The nerves that decrease the rate of conduction and therefore lower heart rate are known as parasympathetic nerves. An example is when someone vomits this can increase impulses in the parasympathetic nerves and slow the heart rate significantly for a while. This can even lead to passing out, which is known as a vagal event.
A balance of impulse from the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nerves determine a persons baseline heart rate. Interestingly, in experiments where a persons nerve supply is blocked, the heart rate is often higher this would suggest that the parasympathetic nerve impulses that serve to slow the heart rate down are the predominant force under normal resting conditions. This is particularly evident at night when most people have a significant drop in heart rate.
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Preparing For Your Appointment
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
- Do you have a history of problems with your heart rate or rhythm? If so:
- Did you see a doctor?
- What was the diagnosis?
- What tests were done?
- How was it treated?
If you have kept a record of your heart rate or rhythm changes, be sure to discuss this with your doctor.
How To Check Your Heart Rate
You can check your heart rate by counting the pulse. A pulse can be felt at various sites on the body like over the sides of the neck, the wrist, and the top of the foot. To check your pulse on the wrist with the help of your middle finger and index finger, you need to:
- Keep your middle finger and your index finger over the inner part of the wrist and keep pressing gently until you can feel your pulse. The pulse is felt in your radial artery.
- After you have located your pulse, look at the watch, and start counting the beats for 30 seconds. Doubling this count will give you your heart rate. You can even count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply the number by six to get your heart rate.
If you find the rhythm of your heartbeat slightly irregular, you will have to count the beats completely until 60 seconds. You will have to visit your doctor if you keep getting a fast and irregular heart rate consistently.
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Treatment For High Pulse
Treatment for high pulse will vary according to a range of factors.
It is helpful to try to identify when the pulse first began to rise. Some episodes of a high pulse may be temporary. For example, if a person develops a high pulse after moving from a prone to a standing position too quickly, the heart might beat more quickly to compensate for gravitys effects.
People who experience bouts of low blood pressure or high pulse while moving from a prone to standing position could try to slow down these movements to help avoid the issue.
Exercising may also lead to a high heart rate, especially if a person is not very fit. This is because the heart may start beating faster even after a person attempts minor exercise.
If a person notices that their heart is beating faster, finding ways to calm the body and brain may help. A person can try slowing down their breathing rate or practicing guided meditations to help them relax and reduce heart rate.
If the heart rate does not go back to normal or if a person is worried, contact a doctor for a full diagnosis.
Your Maximum Heart Rate
The rate at which your heart is beating when it is working its hardest to meet your bodys oxygen needs is your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate plays a major role in setting your aerobic capacitythe amount of oxygen you are able to consume. Several large observational studies have indicated that a high aerobic capacity is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and death. And a small controlled trial demonstrated that men and women with mild cognitive impairment who raised their aerobic capacity also improved their performance on tests of memory and reasoning.
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What Causes Ventricular Tachycardia
Your heart rate is controlled by electrical signals that move across the heart muscle. When something goes wrong and signals are sent too quickly, it can cause tachycardia. Most patients with ventricular tachycardia have another heart problem, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, an enlarged heart or heart valve disease. The condition can also develop after a heart attack or heart surgery because of scar tissue that forms on the heart. Other, non-heart-related causes of ventricular tachycardia include some medications, an imbalance in electrolytes , too much caffeine or alcohol, recreational drugs, exercise, and certain genetically transmitted conditions. Sometimes the cause is unknown. You are also more likely to have ventricular tachycardia as you get older or if you have a family history of heart rhythm disorders.
What Are Common Tests/treatments For A Fast Heart Rate
Common tests and treatments for a fast heart rate include blood pressure measurements, EKGs, and ultrasounds of the heart. A doctor may check to see if your elevated heart rate occurs only with a change in position . If so, there could be an imbalance of heart rate and blood pressure control in the body.
Treatment for a fast heart rate will vary greatly based on its cause.
If you are concerned about an elevated heart rate or have additional questions on the topic, I encourage you to schedule an appointment today.
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Fast Heart Rate And Age
Concern regarding a fast heart rate is going to differ based on the patients age and health. As a general rule, the younger you are, the lower your resting heart rate. As you get older, your resting heart rate increases. Interestingly, however, there are some patients who experience faster and slower heart rates at the same time. This phenomenon can be seen across many age groups. Thus, cause for concern is not 100% definable by age.
Know What Different Heart Rate Zones Feel Like Stay Out Of The Danger Zone
Just because your heart is pumping and youre feeling fatigued doesnt mean youre working out in the danger zone. The key is understanding your running heart rate and those zones the aerobic system, the lactic threshold system, and the anaerobic system and what they feel like so you know when youve moved past them.
If you dont have a monitor , there are other physical markers to estimate which system youre training, such as the talking test.
Generally during a run, youre in one of those three zones. If youre working with a heart rate monitor, its easy to see what heart rate zone youre working within. But if you dont have a monitor , there are other physical markers to estimate which system youre training, such as the talking test.
If you can speak in full sentences, youre likely in the aerobic zone. If you can say a few words at a time, youre probably in the lactic threshold zone. And if you can barely get out one or two words, youve probably found yourself in the anaerobic zone.
If you start to hyperventilate or get dizzy, your heart rate is probably too high, and you should stop and rest, says Jason Lakritz, PT, DPT, physical therapist at Finish Line Physical Therapy in New York City and founder of Profunctional Running.
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Things You Can Do To Help With Supraventricular Tachycardia
If your episodes of SVT only last a few minutes and do not bother you, you may not need treatment.
You can make changes to your lifestyle to reduce your chances of having episodes, such as:
- cutting down on the amount of caffeine or alcohol you drink
- stopping or cutting back on smoking
- making sure you get enough rest
Your doctor may also be able to recommend some simple techniques to help stop episodes when they happen.
What Your Resting Heart Rate Says About You
If you want to know more about your cardiovascular health, weve got one big question for you: Do you know what your resting heart rate is?
Your resting heart rate can tell you a lot about your cardiovascular health and while some of what it says may seem scary at first, dont worry! There are ways to improve your cardiovascular health. At Tri-City Medical Center, we see patients with high resting heart rates lower theirs to healthier levels all the time.
Heres a little background on just what your heart might be trying to tell you.
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