A to Z: Tachycardia
May also be called: Rapid Heart Rate; Rapid Heartbeat
Tachycardia (tak-ih-KAR-dee-uh) is an abnormally rapid heartbeat.
More to Know
The heart has its own electrical system that controls the heart rate and contraction of the heart, which pumps blood throughout the body. Normal heart rates vary based on a person's age.
A rapid heart rate can be caused by many different factors. Sometimes tachycardia is the body's response to a trigger like fever, anxiety, exercise, or pain, just to name a few. It also can be due to an abnormal rhythm in the heart (called a dysrhythmia), such as supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).
Congenital heart abnormalities, high blood pressure, medications, dehydration, caffeine, smoking, and recreational drug use also can cause tachycardia. Tachycardias can lead to dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, and heart palpitations (a sensation of feeling the heart beat fast or irregularly). Some tachycardias are life threatening and can lead to blood clots, causing a stroke, heart failure, and sudden death.
Keep in Mind
Most tachycardias resolve without causing any problems. However, some require immediate medical attention and can be life threatening if they're not treated. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are concerned about tachycardia or its related symptoms.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|American Heart Association This group is dedicated to providing education and information on fighting heart disease and stroke. Contact the American Heart Association at: American Heart Association|
7272 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX 75231
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|Heart Murmurs and Your Child A heart murmur diagnosis is extremely common. Most murmurs are not a cause for concern and do not affect a child's health.|
|Heart and Circulatory System The heart and circulatory system are our body's lifeline, delivering blood to the body's tissues. Brush up on your ticker with this body basics article.|
|Arrhythmias Arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms usually caused by an electrical "short circuit" in the heart. Many don't require treatment; however, some need to be evaluated and treated by a doctor.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2014 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com