In some cases, tachycardia may cause no symptoms or complications. However, tachycardia can seriously disrupt normal heart function, increase the risk of stroke, or cause sudden cardiac arrest or death. NYC cardiologist, a heart doctor Michael Ghalchi of Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates provide effective treatments to control a rapid heart beat and to manage diseases contributing to tachycardia.
The opposite of bradycardia, tachycardia (tack-ee-KAR-dee-ah) is usually classified as a certain type of arrhythmia — in this case, a heart rate that’s too fast. “Too fast” is usually rated at 100 BPM or higher, also called rapid heart beat. This can be benign or a life-threatening condition that requires immediate cardiovascular doctor diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms which raise concern due to rapid heart beat include:
- Dizziness or fainting
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Palpitations or irregular heartbeat
- Cardiac arrest in extreme cases
Causes of Tachycardia
There are a number of abnormalities that can disrupt the normal electrical pulses in your heart’s system. Cardiovascular doctors define some as medical conditions and others as lifestyle choices that contribute to rapid heart beat:
- Medical conditions:
- Congenital heart defects
- Damage to heart tissues
- High blood pressure
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Side effects from medications
- Lifestyle choices:
- Exercise or lack of exercise
- Stress, usually sudden
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive alcohol
- Overindulgence of caffeine
- Abuse of recreational drugs, such as cocaine
Types of Tachycardia
Once your cardiology specialist or a heart doctor in NYC has confirmed that you have Tachycardia, he’ll next decide if your symptoms put you into a certain classification of Tachycardia. Only certified cardiologist or cardiovascular doctor can properly classify the type of Tachycardia. There are several types of tachycardia, each with its own set of treatments:
Atrial or Supraventricular Tachycardia
Atrial or Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) refers to a rapid heart beat where the abnormal heart rate begins in the upper chambers of the heart (the atria). This occurs most frequently in women.
- Other forms of SVT include Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia (PAT) or Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT).
- Not everyone has symptoms with SVT, but those that do report dizziness, lightheadedness, palpitations, chest pain and shortness of breath.
- Most forms of SVT are considered benign unless left untreated or the episodes become more frequent. If this occurs, other symptoms such as dizziness and chest pain could begin. In extreme cases of rapid heart beat, unconsciousness or cardiac arrest occur.
Medical treatment is sometimes needed to slow down a rapid heart beat, otherwise your heart doctor may recommend:
- Carotid Sinus Massage, if done by a cardio professional at a heart doctor’s recommendation. It requires that you and your heart be constantly monitored.
- Pressing gently on your eyes while closed.
- Valsalva maneuver, performed by holding your nose and covering your mouth, and then attempting to forcefully blow air out. This impacts both your inner ear equilibrium as well as your blood pressure.
- Dive reflex, whereby you go underwater and hold your breath as long as possible. Triggering this reflex results in a chain reaction within the body where your systems rush to conserve blood for the heart and nerves while keeping blood pressure at safe levels.
- Sedation under a cardiologist’s supervision.
- Cutting back on coffee, alcohol, tobacco and any other stimulants you indulge in.
- More rest than you’re currently getting.
Sinus Tachycardia occurs when you encounter an outside stimulus that causes your heart to increase its rate, such as in fear or trepidation — sometimes from drugs or medications, emotional distress or exercise.
- The only symptom is a rapid heart beat or faster-than-usual heart rate.
- This type of tachycardia is often benign. Other times it can occur secondary to another underlying condition such as anemia, increased thyroid activity, damage from a heart attack or severe bleeding.
Medical Treatment is typically geared toward the cause of sinus tachycardia, rather than the condition itself. If, for example, high anxiety is seems to be the underlying cause of a rapid heart beat, then the heart doctor in NYC will most likely recommend treating the anxiety, with the tachycardia subsiding naturally on its own as a result.
Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) starts in the lower chambers of the heart, called the ventricles. This is the most dangerous type of tachycardia. The condition can go from benign to malignant very quickly. If there are other cardiac issues, it occurs frequently, and/or it is symptomatic it requires immediate cardiovascular doctor attention.
- Some disorders of the heart that interfere with the electrical pulses system — such as lack of oxygen to the heart, cardiomyopathy, medications, inflammatory skin and tissue disease or sarcoidosis — may cause VT.
- Symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, unconsciousness or cardiac arrest.
Medical Treatment of Ventricular Tachycardia depends on the severity, but may include immediate electrical defibrillation, medication, radiofrequency ablation or even surgery.
Atrial Fibrillation is often referred to as “a quivering heart.” It’s a rapid heart beat that originates in the atria, which are the upper chambers of the heart. When the contractions of the upper chambers are irregular, blood is often not transferred effectively from the upper to the lower chambers, which can lead to blood clots and stroke. Untreated atrial fibrillation can also lead to heart failure and other complications.
- Some causes of this form of tachycardia include hyperthyroidism and structural abnormalities of the heart as a result of heart disease or high blood pressure or overuse of alcohol.
Medical Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation include electrical cardioversion, cardioversion with drugs, catheter ablation, surgical maze procedure and atrioventricular node ablation.
If you’re diagnosed with a form of tachycardia, a rapid heart beat, you can often live a full and healthy life if it’s diagnosed early and treated by cardiovascular doctor appropriately. Schedule an appointment with a NYC Heart Doctor, cardiologist at Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates for a complete evaluation of your rapid or fast heart beat.
Dr. Michael Ghalchi, Cardiologist (Cardiologist NYC, Midtown)
New York, NY10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 686-0066