Butterflies? Heart Skipping A Beat? It's Not Love, It's Tachycardia

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Tachycardia in the absence of a medical emergency, such as hemorrhaging, is easily overlooked because the symptoms mimic anxiety. In some cases of tachycardia, the underlying cause can be benign and is easily treated with medications. However, some instances of tachycardia can lead to dangerous arrhythmias, which can be life threatening.

Worst Aerobic Workout Ever

Tachycardia is a resting heart rate over 100 beats per minute. Depending on your age, having tachycardia can easily be just as intense as your target heart rate during exercise. Although this sounds like easy exercise, it is not. The continuous strain on your heart muscle can lead to cardiovascular damage or sudden cardiac death.

The signs of tachycardia can go beyond an elevated heart rate. You may feel like your heart is fluttering or thumping because the beat is often arrhythmic. Nausea, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, chest pains and/or headaches are also common with tachycardia. An elevated heart rate is also a sign your heart is not efficiently pumping blood. Combine tachycardia with hypertension and your risk for cardiovascular and neurovascular emergencies also increase.

Diagnosing The Problem

Tachycardia is easy to diagnose, because it is simply an elevated heart rate. However, the specific type of tachycardia and why it is occurring can be more complicated. Your primary care doctor will likely want to complete an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check your heart rhythm and he may also refer you to a cardiologist.

The results of an ECG can determine if there is a problem with the atria or ventricles in the heart, or if there are no obvious signs of heart disease. Depending on the results, your doctor may want more extensive testing, such as a stress test or cardiac ultrasound. The latter is an excellent way to visualize the heart in action and check for problems, such as enlargement, valve problems and/or calcification.

Treatment Options

Your treatment options primarily depend on the underlying cause of tachycardia. If the condition is determined to be idiopathic, your doctor will likely prescribe a beta blocker, especially if you have comorbid hypertension. Beta blockers work well for dilating the blood vessels and slowing down your heart rate. Since they work quickly, you will probably notice a significant difference within hours.

Some treatments for tachycardia can include modifications to your lifestyle. Two major lifestyle factors that can have a dramatic effect on your heart rate are quitting smoking and engaging in regular exercise. You may notice stimulants, such as nicotine and caffeine, tend to exacerbate tachycardia. Regular aerobic exercise can help you lose weight and strengthen your heart muscle, which can make your heart more efficient.

Even without serious cardiovascular disease, tachycardia should be consistently managed through lifestyle, medication and monitoring. Taking the condition seriously can lower your risk of irreversible heart and blood vessel damage. To learn more, speak with a business like Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology.