Accelerated heartbeat (or tachycardia) is a condition in which the heart beats in a very rapid rhythm.
The normal heart rate at rest is 60 to 100 beats per minute. Beatings above 100 are called tachycardia.
Often athletes and the elderly have an average lower frequency.
A high frequency indicates an extra effort by the heart to maintain normal blood flow.
The result is, among other things, an increased consumption of oxygen.
If the cause is not resolved, this can lead to a heart attack over time.
Physiology of heartbeat (heart function)
The human heart consists of four chambers (cavities):
- Right and left atrium: the two upper chambers.
- Right and left ventricle: two lower chambers.
According to an article by medicalnewstoday.com (Reviewed by University of Illinois-Chicago, School of Medicine), the heart has a natural pacemaker (structure that regulates the heartbeat) called the sinus node.
This is located in the right atrium.
The sinus node generates the electrical impulses that trigger the heartbeat.
The electrical impulses pass through the atria and lead to the contraction of the atrial muscles.
This muscular contraction pushes the blood into the ventricles.
The electrical impulses continue into the atrioventricular nodes (AV), a group of heart cells.
The AV node slows down the electrical signals and then sends them to the ventricles.
Slowing down the conduction of electrical signals allows the ventricles to fill with blood.
When the muscles of the ventricle receive the electrical signals, they contract and pump the blood:
- In the lungs,
- In the rest of the body.
If there is a problem with the electrical impulses and they cause a faster heartbeat than normal, the person has tachycardia.
The heart rate in a person is not constant, it depends on:
- physical activity,
- Some diseases,
- Psychological stress.
At night during sleep, the heartbeat can go down to 50 beats per minute.
In the morning, when a person wakes up and gets out of bed, he may have postural hypotension and reflexive tachycardia, a normal situation characterized by:
- decreased blood pressure,
- Increased heartbeat.
The increase in heartbeat can occur suddenly due to strong emotions or stress.
Classification of tachycardia
Types of tachycardia are:
- If tachycardia begins in the ventricles, it is called ventricular tachycardia. The electrical signals in the ventricles begin in an abnormal way, disrupting the electrical signals from the sinus node (the regular heartbeats).
The increased heartbeat does not allow the ventricle to fill before contraction.
Thus, the heart does not pump the blood sufficiently into the body tissues.
This type of tachycardia can be fatal.
Supraventricular or atrial tachycardia
- The increase in heart rate has its origin in the upper part of the heart. This type is less severe and has a limited duration (a few minutes or a few hours).
According to the American Heart Association, in supraventricular tachycardia, the electrical signals begin in an abnormal way, interfering with the electrical signals coming from the sinuatrial node (SA), the natural pacemaker of the heart.
A series of premature heartbeats from the atria increases the heart rate.
Tachycardia is called paroxysmal supraventricular when it occurs:
It may be due to:
- Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome – a heart disease characterized by an atrio-ventricular conduction bundle that connects the atrium and ventricles (source Mayo Clinic).
- AV node reentry tachycardia, in which (slower) electrical impulses develop in excess, interfering with the normal heart rhythm.
- Sinus tachycardia
The sinuatrial node sends faster electrical signals than usual.
The heart rate is fast, but the heart beats correctly and continues to pump the blood properly.
Causes of increased heart rate
An increased heart rate can be caused by illness or by temporary factors.
An increased heart rate is not worrisome.
The following factors stimulate the heartbeat for a short time to a faster pace.
- Stress, worry, anxiety, nervousness,
- smoking, nicotine increases the heartbeat,
- anemia, the heart has to pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen,
- sport or physical exertion,
- fever, the heart rate is increased by about 37 beats at any degree above 10,
- After rich meals,
- Certain pharmaceuticals, asthma medications, decongestants, levothyroxine for the thyroid gland, antidepressants such as fluoxetine, norepinephrine,
- vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamin C and B12, which can lead to anemia,
- electrolyte imbalances, for example potassium deficiency,
- After alcohol consumption,
- drugs (cocaine, amphetamines, etc.),
- consumption of chocolate, cocoa contains caffeine and is therefore a stimulating substance,
- arrhythmia (may cause a rapid heartbeat for a few seconds),
- Taking stimulants such as tea and coffee.
Main causes of constant tachycardia
Various diseases can cause an increase in heart rate (or arterial pulse).
The various conditions that lead to the increase in heart rate are:
The following disorders of the heart can cause an increased heartbeat:
- narrowing of the coronary arteries,
- pericarditis (WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on February 16, 2016),
- Congenital heart disease (such as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome),
- Aortic regurgitation, etc.
Arteriosclerosis or defective heart valves cause difficulties in pumping the blood, the result is an increase in heart rate.
Overactivity of the thyroid gland (or hyperthyroidism) is one of the factors responsible for tachycardia.
The thyroid gland controls the body’s metabolism, if it is overactive, it causes an increase in heart rate.
If hyperthyroidism is the cause of the rapid heartbeat, the patient develops the following symptoms:
- Insomnia, etc.
Irregularities (atrial fibrillation) or damage in the upper ventricle cause tachycardia.
Heart failure is a condition characterized by the inability of the heart to pump the blood necessary for the body’s needs into circulation.
Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing,
- swollen ankles,
- Swollen legs,
- loss of appetite and weight loss,
Pulmonary emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), causes tachycardia.
Pneumonia is the inflammation of the lung tissue.
This disease affects the performance of the lungs. The heart has to work harder to pump an appropriate amount of oxygen to the different areas of the body. The result is an accelerated heartbeat.
An increased heart rate occurs very often after a myocardial infarction.
During pregnancy, the pregnant woman’s heart must also pump blood to the fetus.
This increased requirement means additional work for the heart, namely pumping at a faster pace to meet the greater demand.
From the beginning of pregnancy, the measured heart rate is increased by 10-20 beats per minute.
Once the child is born, the heart rate returns to the normal range.
Fetal heart rate
Table of the normal heartbeat of the fetus.
|Period||Number of beats per minute|
|Week 5||starts at 80 and ends at 103 FHF|
|Week 6||starts at 103 and ends at 126 FHF|
|Week 7||starts at 126 and ends at 149 FHF|
|Week 8||starts at 149 and ends at 172 FHF|
|Week 9||155-195 FHF (i.D. 175 FHF)|
|Week 12||120-180 FHF (i.D. 150 FHF)|
|after 12 weeks||120-160 FHF (i.D. 140 FHF)|
The above data describe the heartbeats of the embryo in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy.
In the last third they are relatively stable.
The heartbeat of the embryo slows slightly during the last (third) trimester before birth, but still the heart rate is twice as high as in the adult.
In the case of a normal course of pregnancy, the heart rate of the child at birth is about 140 beats per minute, while the frequency of a premature baby is around 155 beats
Normal heart rate in children
To measure the heart rhythm, it is enough to use the index and middle fingers under the child’s jaw and near the trachea to identify the point where the heartbeat is felt.
The heart rate must be measured for one minute.
|1 – 2 years||80-130|
|2 – 5 years||80-120|
|5 – 12 years||70-110|
|older than 12 years||60-100|
As can be seen from the table, the number of strokes tends to decrease over time.
The frequency is higher than normal only when children have a fever.
The body responds to fever with an increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood circulation.
Increased heart rate at rest
The pulse rate indicates how often the heart beats per minute. Serious deviations indicate a problem of the heart and/or lungs.
Women usually have a higher heart rate compared to men.
Various circumstances can affect normal heart rate:
- Anxiety (also causes headaches)
- gender (male or female),
The resting frequency helps to assess the state of health.
Increased heart rate means that the heart has to work more.
This situation indicates lower cardiac output and decreased blood flow to the rest of the body.
The result is an increased oxygen requirement for the heart.
Regular exercise helps to improve cardiac performance, so that more blood is pumped into the circulation with each heartbeat.
The result is also a resting heart rate decrease.
Causes of an increased resting heart rate
Normal heart rate is measured at rest.
- A younger woman has a higher heart rate compared to an older woman.
- An overweight woman has a higher heart rate compared to a woman of the same age, nationality and less body weight.
Usually, the resting frequency in athletes is about 35/45 beats per minute.
An increased resting heart rate is called tachycardia.
The main causes of an increased resting heart rate include:
- fever, it increases the heart rate by about 10 beats per degree of increased body temperature;
- May be a symptom of pregnancy due to altered hormone levels;
- Hormonal imbalance, increased production of hormones such as epinephrine (adrenaline);
- Young women may experience low blood pressure and an increase in heart rate due to smoking and caffeine consumption.
- valvular heart defects;
- myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle);
- pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium);
- Insufficient oxygenation to the heart muscle;
- diseases that cause blood thickening;
- disorders of the atria or ventricles (such as pericarditis or Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome);
- Abnormal electrical activity in the atria that causes atrial fibrillation;
- Tachycardia can also develop after eating, when the demand for oxygen is increased by digestion and, as a result, the heart has to do more pumping work;
- thyroid disorders such as hyperthyroidism;
- lung diseases such as pulmonary emphysema, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, etc.;
- Some medications, such as corticosteroids (drugs based on cortisone) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories.
Increased heart rate at night
Nocturnal tachycardia can be caused by shortness of breath and cause an awakening from sleep (sleep apnea).
The cause of a nocturnal or shortly before bedtime increased heart rate are often: anxiety, worry or stress.
The person goes to bed, but before falling asleep, he feels various symptoms caused by anxiety, including:
- tingling on the hands,
- stool constipation,
- chest pain,
Symptoms of accelerated heartbeat
Some diseases that cause an accelerated heartbeat can also cause:
- Strong palpitations
- Chest pain
- Feeling of loss of consciousness
Risks and complications of tachycardia
Tachycardia causes an excessive load on the heart muscle, which thus requires more oxygen and nutrients than a normofrequent heart.
If there are other circulatory diseases (such as atherosclerosis), the amount of oxygen is insufficient for the cells and the risk of heart disease increases, such as:
- Heart attack
- Coronary heart disease.
Natural remedies for tachycardia
In addition to medication, lifestyle and diet changes can lead to a reduction in heart rate.
It is important to avoid:
- Too many medications,
It is also recommended to quit smoking.
Physical activity is important to strengthen the heart. This makes it possible to decrease beats per minute so that the heart can pump more blood with each beat.
One should talk to the doctor to find out the appropriate physical activity:
- Depending on age,
- Depending on your state of health.