Types of tachycardia: symptoms and possible causes

We have all felt at some point that our hearts were racing. We see someone who attracts us, we are nervous or stressed, we have an anxiety attack, we exercise … our heart speeds up more or less in all these cases.

However, this acceleration is sometimes excessive and even dangerous, exceeding normal values ​​and may require medical intervention. We are talking about tachycardias. In this article we will see the main types of tachycardias, Its symptoms and possible causes.

    Tachycardia: concept and symptoms

    By tachycardia we mean it all acceleration or increase in heart rate that exceeds values ​​considered normal. This value is generally about one hundred beats per minute in adult subjects. Thus, people who have a heart rate of more than one hundred beats per minute would suffer from tachycardia and can reach up to about four hundred. It is an arrhythmia or altered heart rate just like bradycardia (although the latter is the opposite of tachycardia, that is, in bradycardia the heart rate slows down while in tachycardia s accelerates).

    The exaggerated increase in heart rate it causes the heart to pump blood too quickly, Not being able to transport enough oxygen to the rest of the body. Although most of those that occur to us do not involve serious damage, they can shorten the life expectancy of the heart muscle and can predict and even cause myocardial infarctions.

    Some of the typical symptoms of tachycardia are the presence of dizziness, shortness of breath, and weakness (due to a lack of sufficient oxygen), as well as difficulty breathing. The presence of palpitations, tremors in the chest and pain is common.

    Tachycardia too it can cause alterations in the level of consciousness, Including syncope or fainting. However, in some cases, tachycardias are asymptomatic, which carries the risk of being detected too late.

      Risk factors and possible causes

      The human heart is an organ that can be affected by a large number of physical and mental elements. Thus, the presence of some type of arrhythmia or altered heart rate such as tachycardia it can have very different origins. These are the most common causes.

      • hypertension
      • Arteriosclerosis
      • coronary disease
      • lung diseases
      • Substance abuse
      • electrolyte imbalance
      • tumors
      • infections
      • Excessive physical effort
      • Anxiety attack or excessive stress
      • Administration of antiarrhythmic drugs
      • Lack of oxygen
      • Scars on the heart muscle
      • Thyroid problems
      • high cholesterol
      • Diabetes (in some cases hypoglycemia)

      Different types of tachycardias

      There are a wide variety of items that can lead to tachycardia. These elements cause a kind of morphological or functional alteration of one of the parts of the heart. So, we can find the following types of tachycardia.

      1. Sinus tachycardia

      This type of tachycardia is the one that usually occurs during episodes of anxiety, in states of anemia, in people with heart failure, after exercise or after consuming substances such as alcohol. It does not require treatment in itself, although it is necessary to affect the element that caused it.

      2. Supraventricular tachycardias

      This is an acceleration of the heart rate, the origin of which can be found in alterations in the functioning of the atria, the upper chambers of the heart. They can also occur due to problems in the atrioventricular node, the node that connects the atria and ventricles. There are different types of supraventricular tachycardias, As can be the following.

      atrial tachycardia

      These types of tachycardia occur in a specific area of ​​the atria. They have a long shelf life and are often difficult to remove. They usually result from chronic conditions such as bronchitis and need to be treated medically or may even require surgery to restore normal function.

      atrial fibrillation

      During an episode of atrial fibrillation, the heart rate begins to accelerate, showing irregular changes in the beat pattern. It is common in the elderly.

      This is the most common type of arrhythmia and may or may not cause symptoms. However, it is linked to the occurrence of thrombi and ischemic attacks. It should be treated pharmacologically both to stop the arrhythmia and to decrease the possibility of new episodes and possible thrombi.

      Ear beating

      It is a type of tachycardia in which there is an increase in the heart rate, which is around 150 beats per minute on a regular basis. It is caused during the atrial reentry process, Phenomenon in which part of the heart has not been activated in time alongside the rest of the organ and acts by causing more beats by causing new ones.

      Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardias

      This type of tachycardia is also due to alterations in the atria, but in the case of paroxysms, the acceleration of the heart rate begins and ends with a search form.

      In this case, they usually cause symptoms and do not go unnoticed, causing shortness of breath, chest pain, discomfort and palpitations. They usually occur due to the re-entry phenomenon described above. It treats the presence of arrhythmia due to vagal or pharmacological stimulation, in addition to requiring preventive measures to prevent future cases.

      Within this group, we also find a reentrant nodal tachycardia and a tachycardia with involvement of the accessory pathway, these two cases being due to alterations of the atrioventricular node.

      3. Ventricular tachycardias

      They are due to problems caused by the ventricles. This type of tachycardia it is considered smart because it is life threatening. They are more common than supraventricular tachycardias in people with heart disease.

      Within this group we can find several types of tachycardia, among which the following are included.

      ventricular extrasystoles

      There is a problem or alteration at a specific point in the ventricle. This alteration it increases the heart rate compared to what is usual, With a short pause until the next normal beat arrives. They may not give symptoms and if they do not occur in people with heart disease, they usually do not have a poor prognosis, although in cases where they do cause discomfort, they can be treated medically.

      Sustained ventricular tachycardia

      Due to problems or impaired functioning of the ventricles, the heart rate continuously increases to abnormal levels. It is one of the most dangerous deaths. They often cause unconsciousness and obvious symptoms such as dizziness, pain, and palpitations.

      This type of tachycardia usually indicates the presence of heart disease, which should be investigated to avoid future relapses. This type of tachycardia can be treated with a defibrillator to restore a normal rhythm or with medication. The installation of internal defibrillators may require surgery to avoid life-threatening arrhythmias.

      Unsupported ventricular tachycardia

      Sometimes short episodes of tachycardia occur they are finishing spontaneously. In the case of an unsustainable ventricular tachycardia, a set of consecutive pulses is given which yields in less than thirty seconds. If there is heart disease, it is usually linked to a poor prognosis and follow-up and preventive treatment should be done. There is a possibility of sudden death.

      ventricular fibrillation

      This is a type of life-threatening tachycardia, be frequent that consciousness is lost during this. The heartbeats no longer have a fixed pattern, do not have an effective frequency, but the organ beats in a disorganized way, with different intensity and with varying time separation between the beats.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Goldberger, A .; Goldberger, Z. and Schvilkin, A. (2006) Clinical electrocardiography: a simplified approach, 7th ed. Philadelphia: Mosby Elservier.
      • Uribe, W., Duc, M. and Medina, E. (2005). Electrocardiography and arrhythmias. Bogota: PLA Export Editors Ltda.

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