Tachycardia is a faster than normal heart rate at rest. A healthy adult heart normally beats 60 to 100 times a minute when a person is at rest. If you have tachycardia (tak-ih-KAHR-dee-uh), the heart rate in the upper chambers or lower chambers of the heart, or both, is increased.

Heart rate is controlled by electrical signals sent across heart tissues. Tachycardia occurs when an abnormality in the heart produces rapid electrical signals.

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.

Treatments may help control a rapid heartbeat or manage diseases contributing to tachycardia.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

When your heart's rate is too rapid, it may not effectively pump blood to the rest of your body, depriving your organs and tissues of oxygen. This can cause these tachycardia-related signs and symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Heart palpitations — a racing, uncomfortable or irregular heartbeat or a sensation of "flopping" in the chest
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting (syncope)

Some people with tachycardia have no symptoms, and the condition is only discovered during a physical examination or with a heart-monitoring test called an electrocardiogram.

When to see a doctor

A number of conditions can cause a rapid heart rate and tachycardia symptoms. It's important to get a prompt, accurate diagnosis and appropriate care. See your doctor if you or your child experiences any tachycardia symptoms.

If you faint, have difficulty breathing or have chest pain lasting more than a few minutes, get emergency care, or call 112 or your local emergency number. Seek emergency care for anyone experiencing these symptoms.

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