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What is tachycardia?

            Tachycardia is the term used to describe abnormally fast heart rhythms. The normal heart rhythm is called normal sinus rhythm because it originates in an area of the heart called the sinus node.  The normal rate for this rhythm is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.  When the heart is beating faster than 100 beats per minutes, the patient is said to have tachycardia. 


What are the signs and symptoms of tachycardia?

            Patients with tachycardia can experience a variety of symptoms including palpitations, feelings of fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or even fainting.       


What are the causes of tachycardia?

            Tachycardia may be caused by abnormal heart rhythms that involve the top chambers of the heart of the bottom chambers of the heart.  Some of the abnormal heart rhythms originating from the top chamber would include atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, or supraventricular tachycardia.  Abnormal heart rhythms originating from the bottom chambers of the heart are referred to as ventricular arrhythmias.    


How can tachycardia be evaluated?

            The evaluation of tachycardia depends in large part on the type of the tachycardia, the patient’s symptoms, and the patient’s medical history.  Some of the tests that may be required for the evaluation of tachycardia include an electrocardiogram, a holter monitor, a loop monitor, an electrophysiology study, a stress test, a cardiac catheterization, and an echocardiogram.


How can tachycardia be treated?

The treatment of tachycardia also depends upon the type of tachycardia, the patient’s symptoms, and the patient’s medical history.  Treatment of tachycardia may include medicines such as beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, digoxin, or antiarrhythmic agents.  Other treatment options may include an ablation or placement of a defibrillator

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