May also be called: Rapid Heart Rate; Rapid Heartbeat
Tachycardia (tak-ih-KAR-dee-uh) is an abnormally rapid heartbeat.
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.
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 and Circulatory System The heart and circulatory system (also called the cardiovascular system) make up the network that delivers blood to the body's tissues.|
|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 Murmurs Everyone's heart makes sounds, but some people have hearts that make more noise than others. Usually, however, these heart murmurs don't mean anything is wrong. Find out more about these mysterious murmurs.|
|What Should I Do if a Medicine Gives Me Side Effects Like a Fast Heartbeat? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|The Heart Your heart beats and sends oxygen throughout your entire body. Find out how it works and how heart problems can be fixed.|
|Arrhythmias Arrhythmias are abnormal heartbeats usually caused by an electrical "short circuit" in the heart. Many are minor and not a significant health threat, but others can indicate a more serious problem.|
|Words to Know (Heart Glossary) Your heart beats and sends blood all around your body. Find out more about the heart, from A to Z, in this glossary.|
|Your Heart & Circulatory System Your heart is a hard-working muscle. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|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.|
|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.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.