A rapid heartbeat, often known as tachycardia, is a condition in which the heart beats rapidly, typically more than 100 beats per minute in an adult. A fast heartbeat might be normal or the result of an illness, ailment, or other potentially dangerous situation.

By constricting its four chambers, the heart sends blood to the lungs and the rest of the body. The atria are the two upper chambers, while the ventricles are the two bottom chambers. A tiny collection of cells in the right atrium, known as the sinus node, sends an electrical impulse to the heart, causing the atria to contract. The impulse passes via the ventricles, which contract and circulate blood throughout the body. The heart rate is the number of times the heart beats each minute. Nerve impulses and hormones in the blood control the rate of these contractions.

The pace at which your heart beats change constantly, increasing and decreasing in response to a variety of events and situations. During vigorous activity, for example, your heart rate will increase to guarantee that all of the cells in your body receive adequate quantities of oxygen-rich blood. In reaction to stressful events or when you are in pain, your heartbeat may also grow quicker. During moments of relaxation or sleep, your heart rate is typically lower. The typical adult resting heart rate is between 60 and 80 beats per minute.

Many factors influence your heart rate, including age, overall physical condition, aerobic conditioning, and altitude. Infants and youngsters often have faster heartbeats than adults. Many illnesses, ailments, and situations, such as cardiac disease, congenital heart abnormalities, and hyperthyroidism, can also induce a fast heartbeat.

Treatment for an excessively fast heartbeat varies based on the kind of underlying cardiac rhythm, the underlying reason, your age and medical history, and other variables.

What are the many forms of rapid heartbeats?

Tachycardia is a kind of cardiac arrhythmia that causes a fast heartbeat. There are several forms of fast cardiac arrhythmias, which include:

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is characterized by an irregular, fast trembling of the atria, the heart’s upper chambers. AF can cause inefficient blood pumping, blood pooling in the atria, and the development of blood clots.

Adults with sinus tachycardia have a fast, regular heartbeat that exceeds 100 beats per minute. In many situations, sinus tachycardia is natural and happens as a response to a variety of common conditions such as exercise, stress, coffee, sickness, pain, or pharmaceutical side effects.

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is an exceedingly fast cardiac rhythm that, if not treated promptly, might impair blood supply to the body. SVT may affect anybody, although it is more prevalent in children. SVT is frequently intermittent, which means it comes and goes over time. Episodes might last anything from a few minutes to several hours.

The ventricles, or bottom chambers of the heart, are the source of ventricular tachycardia (VT). VT is dangerous because the heart contracts before it has filled with enough blood, leading in insufficient blood supply to the brain and other areas of the body. This frequently results in loss of consciousness and the requirement for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and sophisticated life-saving treatments. VT can be caused by a number of diseases, including heart illness.

Certain forms of fast heartbeats, known as cardiac arrhythmias, are severe or instantly fatal. If you or someone you’re with has a fast heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, or a change in awareness, chest discomfort, or shortness of breath, get emergency medical attention.

What additional symptoms might a rapid heartbeat cause?

A fast heartbeat can develop with or without symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying reason. If you know how to take your own pulse, you will notice a fast pulse at the wrist accompanied by a rapid heartbeat. However, with certain significant fast heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation, feeling and counting an exact pulse may be difficult because the heart is not pumping blood well enough to create a strong pulse.

If you are in excellent health and exercising, you may experience a rapid pulse and slight shortness of breath during exercise. Normally, the fast heartbeat and shortness of breath subside shortly when you reduce or discontinue your workout.

Serious symptoms that may signal a potentially fatal disease

A fast heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia) may be associated with additional symptoms indicating a serious or life-threatening disease that should be examined quickly in an emergency situation. Seek emergency medical attention if you or someone you’re with has a fast heartbeat that is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out (fainting) or unresponsiveness

Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations or delusions

Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure, or palpitations

Dizziness

Pallor (very pale or gray skin and lips) or cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the lips, nails or skin)

Rapid, irregular or weak pulse

Respiratory or breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, wheezing, not breathing, or choking

Sweating

Weakness

What is the cause of a rapid heartbeat?

A fast heartbeat can be caused by a number of factors. During moments of rest, your heartbeat will usually slow down and accelerate up during periods of exercise or physical activity. A fast pulse can occur for no apparent cause.

A fast heartbeat can also be caused by certain medical disorders and other factors, such as: Caffeine, Excessive alcohol use, Fever, Medication side effect, Pain, Smoking, Stress and anxiety disorders

Causes of a rapid heartbeat that are serious or life-threatening

A rapid heartbeat may be caused by a serious or life-threatening ailment in some circumstances, such as:

Coronary artery disease (CAD), faulty heart valve function, congenital heart disease, hypertension, and heart failure are all examples of cardiovascular illness.

Inadequate hydration and electrolyte balance

Thyroid enlargement (overactive thyroid)

Cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and LSD are examples of street drugs.

What are the risks of having a rapid heartbeat?

Complications of a fast heartbeat can be serious and even fatal. Failure to seek treatment might lead to significant consequences and long-term harm. Once the underlying reason has been identified, it is critical that you adhere to the treatment plan that you and your health care provider devised particularly for you in order to decrease the risk of potential consequences such as:

Failure of the heart

Stroke

Ventricular tachycardia and cardiac arrest