Tachycardia means increased heart rate, usually above 100 beats per minute. Heart rate controlled by electrical signals that are sent over the heart muscle tissue. Tachycardia occurs when a malfunction of the heart produce rapid electrical signals.
Individuals usually described it as a feeling that their heart 'skipped' or has an irregular rhythm, then as a shot in the chest cavity, while some feel that their heart stopped beating for a moment and as 'pounding'. Generally, the heart in adults has between 60 and 100 beats per minute. When the heart beats too fast, it may happen that the heart does not pump blood effectively to the rest of the body, thus depriving your organs and tissue of oxygen.
And while some harmless, some can be very dangerous, and significantly increase the risk of a stroke, sudden cardiac arrest or death.
What are the signs and symptoms of tachycardia?
1. An accelerated heartbeat (fast heart rate)
2. Chest pain (angina) - chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the heart muscle does not get enough blood. Angina is more likely if the heart rate is very fast, and the heart is working under a lot of pressure.
5. Hypotension (low blood pressure)
6. Palpitations - an uncomfortable feeling in the chest, feeling of irregular heartbeat.
7. Gasp (shortness of breath)
8. Sudden weakness and fainting
It is not unusual that certain individuals have no symptoms. In such cases, the tachycardia is usually detected by the examination or electrocardiogram.
What are the risk factors for the development of tachycardia?
Age - People over the age of 60 have a significantly higher risk than younger people.
Regular consumption of a large amount of alcohol
Consuming large amounts of caffeine
Genetics - people who have a close relative (e.g. parents) with tachycardia or other cardiac rhythm disorders like have a higher risk of developing the disease, when compared with other individuals.
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
What are the causes?
The following situations, conditions and diseases are possible causes:
Reactions to certain medications
Congenital (present at birth) abnormality of the electrical pathways of the heart
Congenital abnormalities of the heart
Consumption of too much alcohol
Consumption of cocaine and other recreational drugs
Heart disease resulting in poor circulation and heart tissue damage, including coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis), heart failure, heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy), tumors or infections.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
Certain pulmonary disease
Sometimes the doctor can not determine the exact cause tachycardia.
The human heart consists of four chambers: two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles). Heart rate is controlled by a natural 'pacemaker', sinus node, which is located in before the right ventricle. Sinus node produces electrical impulses that start each heartbeat.
From the sinus node, electrical impulses travel across the atria, causing the atrium to stretch and pumped blood into the ventricle. Electrical impulses then come to a set of cells called the atrioventricular node (AV node).
AV node slows the electrical signal before sending it to the chamber, and that a little delay enable chambers to fill with blood. When electrical impulses reach the muscles chamber, causing the pumping of blood in the lungs and the rest of the body.
Tachycardia occurs when the electrical impulses produced heartbeat that are faster than normal.
The most common types of tachycardia are:
1. Atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is caused by chaotic electrical impulses; AV node being bombarded with chaotic signals. It occurs due to rapid and irregular electrical impulses in the atrium (frequency> 300 / min), which leads to a loss of atrial contraction. This increases the risk of a thrombus (clot) in the atrium. Many people with atrial fibrillation have some structural abnormalities of the heart associated with a heart disease or high blood pressure.
2. Atrial flutter - Atrial flutter is a rapid regular atrial rhythm that is caused by the circulation of electrical impulses in the atria. Treatment includes frequency control drugs, prevention of thromboembolism, anticoagulation, and sometimes rhythm conversion to sinus rhythm medication or cardioversion.
3. Supraventricular tachycardia - includes tachycardia called "circular" tachycardia, start and stop abruptly and follow a proper rhythm, frequency 150-250 / min. Tachycardia is conditional on the existence of an extra path or the AV node, or anywhere in the heart at the junction of the atria and ventricles, which allows a "circular" tachycardia.
4. Ventricular tachycardia - rapid heart rhythm that occurs in the chambers of the heart. They are common in patients with a history of other myocardial infarction and cardiomyopathy. Due to inadequate filling of the ventricles the heart's ability to pump blood to the body is reduced. Treatment includes electrocardioversion and immediate defibrillation, antiarrhythmic medications, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, and radiofrequency ablation. Of course, any treatment of ventricular tachycardia includes treatment of the primary disease of the heart leading to arrhythmia.
5. Ventricular fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder, during which the heart rate is rapid and irregular, causing useless flickering in the heart chambers, instead of blood pumping. During the ventricular fibrillation, there is a lowering of the blood pressure and decreased blood supply to vital organs. Ventricular fibrillation often causes a heart attack and requires immediate medical attention. A person with ventricular fibrillation may collapse within a few seconds and soon stop breathing or lose the pulse.
Emergency treatment for ventricular fibrillation includes resuscitation and an electric shock device called defibrillator. Treatments for people at risk of ventricular fibrillation include medications and installation of devices that can restore a normal heart rhythm. The most common sign is a loss of consciousness or fainting. There may be some symptoms that begin about an hour before it comes to ventricular fibrillation and fainting. Many people who experience ventricular fibrillation suffer from some heart disease or have experienced a serious trauma such as a lightning strike.
How is it diagnosed?
A doctor can usually diagnose tachycardia asking the patient questions about symptoms, performing a physical examination and through certain tests.
Those tests may include:
Blood tests - to help determine whether thyroid problems or other material factors contributed to the development tachycardia. Blood tests can reveal whether an individual anemia or problems with kidney function, which can aggravate the condition.
Electrocardiogram (EKG) - electrodes are connected to the patient due to the measurement of electrical impulses of the heart. Impulses are recorded as waves and displayed on the screen.
Holter - the patient wears a portable device that records heart rate. It is worn under clothing and keep a record of the electrical activity of the heart, while people perform normal activities within one or two days.
Electrophysiological tests (EP study) - an invasive, relatively painless, non-surgical testing and can help determine the type of arrhythmia, its origin and find the answer as far as a potential treatment.
Electrophysiological testing are invasive searches in which a local anesthetic through a vein in the groin a probes (catheters) is lead to the heart and in certain typical places records ECG inside the heart. It is sometimes very important to determine the correct diagnosis and accurately describe the electrical system of the heart and its potential interference. During the procedure, it is possible to induce and terminate arrhythmias which the patient then recognized as their problem.
This is an extremely safe procedure with an extremely rare complication.
Tilt-table test - If the patient faints and both Holter and ECG haven't found any arrhythmias, the tilt table test can be carried out, which is trying to provoke a reflex loss of consciousness in people who are considered to have a reflex fainting (aka. Neurokardogene syncope). The test is painless, and it consists in the fact that you lie down on a special table that can sit up and that has belts for fixation in the case, if you lose consciousness, you will not fall and not hurt yourself. Once you are tied, it will correct you to a position of about 60-70 degrees for 45 minutes and measure the blood pressure and monitor the heart rate. The test is interrupted if you lose consciousness or if after 45 minutes nothing happens. Some protocols also use the administration of dmedications, e.g., nitroglycerin, sublingual after about 20 minutes (since it can have a slight headache). If you lose consciousness, the test is positive, thus proving that the fainting reflex is natural. If the test is negative, there is some meaning.
X-rays - may help the doctor to determine the condition of the heart and lungs as well as to determine whether the presence of congenital heart defects are present.
What are the treatment options of tachycardia?
The treatment options vary, depending on what caused the condition, the patient's age and general health and other factors. The aim is to slow down rapid heart rate, prevent subsequent episodes of tachycardia and reduce the risk of complications. In some cases, all that is needed is to treat the cause, which may be the case with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). In some cases, when the underlying cause is not found, the doctor has to try different therapies.
Methods of slowing the rapid heart rate:
Vagal maneuvers - your doctor may recommend this procedure that helps to regulate the heartbeat. The maneuvers may include coughing, putting ice on your face, holding your breath, bending.
Medications - If vagal maneuvers do not stop the rapid heartbeat, you may have to take a shot in the hospital in order to establish a normal heartbeat.
Cardioversion - means the use of brief electric shock through electrodes placed on the chest to restore a normal heart rhythm. Cardioversion is typically used when maneuvers and medications are not effective.
What are the possible complications?
The risk of complications depends on several factors, including:
The range of tachycardia
Whether or not there are any other heart problems present
The most common complications are:
Blood clots - significantly increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Heart failure - the inability of the heart to pump enough blood
Sudden death - mainly associated with ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation
Help from nature!
In functional disorders of the heart such as tachycardia, arrhythmia, heart failure, we recommend the use of hawthorn tincture which cleans the blood lipids, regulates blood pressure, heart muscle, strengthens capillaries and blood vessels. It destroys blood clots, a good effect on the central nervous system and is a natural means of peaceful and good night's sleep. French scientists in 1995 have confirmed that it strengthens the heart, stimulates its proper functioning, improves the blood flow to the heart, strengthens the heart muscle and lowers blood pressure. Combined with hawthorn, very helpful can also be a lemon balm tincture which helps in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, mild forms of depression and stress, which is one of the factors that lead to heart attacks. The direct impact of balm to the heart muscle is reflected by improving the blood circulation. Mystical philosopher and the greatest doctor of the Renaissance, Paracelsus considered it to be the best herb for the heart. For this beautiful, fragrant plant is said that it conjures up good thoughts.
The leading cause of death in Croatia, but also around the whole world
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Croatia, and every year due to cardiovascular disease die about 26,000 people. Diseases of the heart and blood vessels are in first place and the incidence of morbidity and mortality in almost all countries of the world. According to the World Health Organisation, they are the cause of death of 17.3 million people worldwide, and causes 30% of all mortality. It is estimated that by 2030, 23.6 million people die of cardiovascular disease.