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What are Tachycardia Causes?

Article Details
  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Normal heart function is crucial to any individual’s overall health. A rapid heart rate or rapid heart beat, known as tachycardia, may indicate a problem with the heart or the overall cardiovascular system. Tachycardia issues typically increase as an individual ages. Symptomatic issues besides rapid heart beat can include chest pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath. The following commonly present as tachycardia causes: heart or blood vessel damage,an overactive thyroid,or chemical stimulants.

Heart disease is one of the leading tachycardia causes. A hardening of the blood vessels that transfer blood away from the heart — the arteries — represents a prevalent form of heart disease and subsequent tachycardia symptoms. This hardening is often due to long-term consumption of foods high in fat and cholesterol content. Due to the hardening and possible artery blockage, the heart must work harder and pump faster to supply blood to the body, thus increasing heart rate.

Such conditions can also eventually damage heart muscle, as can infections or other underlying diseases. An individual who has suffered a heart attack often experiences severe heart damage as a consequence. When the muscles of the heart are injured, they cannot function normally. Heart rate may therefore be accelerated or slowed.

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Different areas of the heart can experience problems. Individuals who must get a pacemaker device to stimulate heartbeats frequently develop malfunctions with the heart’s natural impulse generator: the sinus node and sinus rhythm. Another area that can be influenced by infection or other issues is the sac surrounding the heart: the pericardium. When this protective covering becomes inflamed, known as pericarditis, tachycardia is often a chief symptom of the ailment. Malformations in the chambers of the heart can also be present at birth, facilitating rapid heart rate. Low blood pressure may result from any of these conditions, causing the heart to beat faster to maintain the blood pressure balance.

Disorders originating in locations other than the heart can indirectly impact the heart’s function as well, and therefore become chief tachycardia causes. The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating most of the body’s chemicals, including those associated with the heart. As a result, an overactive thyroid can affect all heart-related activities. Due to their close proximity to the heart, diseases affecting the lungs can also affect the cardiovascular system. Stimulants like caffeine, drugs, or alcohol can speed up body functions as well, as can anxiety or exercise.

One must consider the variations of individuals' heart rates when discussing tachycardia causes. Normal rates differ across populations and age groups, and genetic differences can make individual heart rates run a wide range. Individuals can measure a pulse rate by cataloging the number of heart beats in the wrist or neck during a one minute period. Experts typically estimate an average resting heart rate at anywhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute. Any sustained number over 100 — and more importantly any number significantly divergent from an individual’s average — should be discussed with a medical professional for tachycardia management and to prevent complications like stroke or cardiac arrest. Medications or surgery may be needed for more serious tachycardia causes.

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