What is Tachycardia?

Tachycardia is a type of arrhythmia, a disorder of the rhythm of the heart, in which the heartbeat is very fast even when you are at rest. It is absolutely normal for the heartbeat to rise up during physical activities and emotional upheavals. But if you have tachycardia, your heart beats faster than normal in the upper or lower chambers of the heart, or in both, even while at rest. There are many types of tachycardia. They are classified according to the origin and cause of the abnormality. Common types of tachycardia are atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is caused due to irregular electrical signals in the upper chambers or atria of the heart. Atrial flutter is caused due to irregular circuitry within the atria. Supraventricular tachycardia is usually congenital and caused by abnormal circuitry, creating a loop of signals that overlap each other. The origin of this is somewhere above the lower chambers or ventricles. Ventricular tachycardia originates in the ventricles and result in the ventricles being incompletely filled with blood during pumping, thereby reducing the efficiency of the heart.

Ventricular fibrillation occurs when chaotic and rapid electrical impulses cause the ventricles to quiver, instead of pumping blood. This can be fatal if not treated on time, using an electric shock to the heart, also known as defibrillation.


These could be the symptoms of tachycardia:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • For some, no symptom exists but the presence of tachycardia is found out only during a physical examination or an electrocardiogram.


A few causes of tachycardia could be:

  • Abnormal congenital electrical circuitry in the heart
  • Anemia
  • Damage to tissues of the heart
  • Exercise
  • Sudden stress and fright
  • Side effects of medication
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Excessive drinking of alcohol and caffeinated beverages
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Drugs like cocaine
  • Imbalance of electrolytes


Following are the risk factors for tachycardia:

  • Family history
  • Heart diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Malfunctioning thyroid
  • High stress
  • Smoking
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol, caffeine or drugs


To prevent Tachycardia, you have to:

  • Follow a healthy lifestyle by reducing intake of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and unhealthy food
  • Eat fibre-rich food
  • Exercise regularly to maintain your weight, cholesterol and stress levels

How is it diagnosed?

At Medanta, Tachycardia is diagnosed using the following methods:


How is it treated?

Treatments for tachycardia are designed to address not only the root cause of tachycardia, but also to prevent tachycardia in the future. Your specialist from Medanta might recommend various modes of treatment including:


  • Vagal maneuvers

    Vagal maneuvers have an impact on the vagus nerve that regulates the heartbeat. The maneuvers include actions like coughing, bearing down as if you're having a bowel movement and putting an ice pack on your face.

  • Medication

    Treatment through medications involves the injection of an anti-arrhythmic medication to restore a normal heart rate. The doctor may administer a pill version of an anti-arrhythmic drug if you vagal maneuvers aren't effective.

  • Cardioversion

    In this procedure, a shock is delivered to the heart through paddles, an automated external defibrillator (AED) or patches on the chest. The shocks help in restoring a normal rhythm. 

When do I contact the doctor?

f you faint, have chest pain for more than a few minutes or have difficulty in breathing, you need immediate medical attention.

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