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Causes of Very Fast Pulse Rate or Tachycardia: What Could They Be?

Causes of Very Fast Pulse Rate or Tachycardia: What Could They Be?

For the most part, your heart beat and pulse rate run a steady pace. However, there are situations where it feels that your heart or pulse rate might be too fast. Should you be worried about this? What are the causes of a very fast pulse rate?

Rapid Heartbeat while Lying Down: Symptoms and Causes

What are the causes of very fast pulse rate?

Tachycardia refers to having a heart rate or a pulse rate that’s faster than normal. Someone with tachycardia usually has a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute.

What this means is that your normal resting heart rate exceeds what should be normal. But generally, you should not worry about a fast pulse rate immediately. The reason is that your body sometimes needs your heart to beat faster than normal. Some examples would be during exercise and if you’re anxious or afraid.

However, there are also situations wherein it could be the symptom of an underlying condition. This is why it’s important to know the causes of very fast pulse rate in order to better understand your body.

There are three main types of tachycardia, namely the following:

Sinus tachycardia

causes of very fast pulse rate

A sinus tachycardia refers to a normal increase in heart rate. What happens is that your sinoatrial node, or specialized tissues in the heart that control your heart rate, makes the heart beat faster than normal.

This usually happens in response to certain conditions such as being anxious, afraid, doing exercise, or even caused by a fever. This type of tachycardia is your body’s normal response to these conditions, and should not be a cause for concern.

However, there are certain situations wherein a sinus tachycardia might be caused by a more serious problem. For example, people with anemia, thyroid problems, and heart damage can experience sinus tachycardia. A person who is losing a lot of blood could also experience sinus tachycardia.

Treatment for this condition usually depends on what’s causing it. If you have no underlying problems, and your doctor doesn’t see anything wrong, then it’s likely nothing to worry about.

Ventricular tachycardia

Ventricular tachycardia, as the name implies, is caused by problems in the lower chambers of the heart, also known as ventricles.

What happens in a person with ventricular tachycardia is that the electrical signals in their ventricles become abnormal. This causes the ventricles to pump irregularly, which makes them unable to efficiently pump blood throughout the body.

A person with ventricular tachycardia could have problems with circulation, and their heart might not be able to properly supply blood throughout their body.

Here are some of the more common causes of ventricular tachycardia:

  • Side effect of illegal drugs such as cocaine
  • Certain medications can also cause this problem
  • Sarcoidosis or an inflammation of certain organs in the body
  • Conditions that change the heart’s structure
  • Lack of blood flow to the heart

People with ventricular tachycardia usually experience symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations, nausea, falling unconscious, or even cardiac arrest. If you notice any of these symptoms, it would be best to talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

Supraventricular tachycardia

causes of very fast pulse rate

The third kind is what’s known as supraventricular tachycardia. Another name for this is atrial tachycardia.

In people with atrial tachycardia, the problem lies in the upper chambers of the heart, or the atria. Similar to ventricular tachycardia, supraventricular tachycardia happens when the atria pump irregularly. Because of this, the heart doesn’t fill up completely with blood, and it can’t pump efficiently throughout the entire body.

This type of tachycardia is most common among children, women, smokers, drinkers, people who drink lots of coffee, and people who are always anxious.

In some cases, a supraventricular tachycardia does not have any symptoms, but it can sometimes cause the following to happen:

  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • “Fluttering” in the chest
  • Palpitations
  • Cardiac arrest

It is possible for some people with supraventricular tachycardia to not require any treatment. However, it would still be best to talk to your doctor about it, especially if it happens often.

Key Takeaways

Knowing the causes of very fast pulse rate is very important when it comes to caring for your heart. It’s also important to always pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you, and to not hesitate to get in touch with your doctor if you feel there might be something wrong.

Learn more about Heart Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Tachycardia – Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/tachycardia-a-to-z, Accessed November 27, 2020

Tachycardia – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tachycardia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355127, Accessed November 27, 2020

Tachycardia: Fast Heart Rate | American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/about-arrhythmia/tachycardia–fast-heart-rate, Accessed November 27, 2020

Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia | Cedars-Sinai, https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/i/inappropriate-sinus-tachycardia.html, Accessed November 27, 2020

Ask an Expert: Is Tachycardia dangerous? | Providence Oregon, https://oregon.providence.org/forms-and-information/a/ask-an-expert-is-tachycardia-dangerous/, Accessed November 27, 2020

Ventricular Tachycardia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17616-ventricular-tachycardia, Accessed November 27, 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jun 10
Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, M.D.
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