Nonspecific Tachycardia

Tachycardia is a faster than normal heartbeat (more than 100 beats per minute). In adults, the heart normally beats between 60 and 100 times a minute. A fast heartbeat may be a normal response to exercise or stress. It does not necessarily mean that something is wrong. However, sometimes when your heart beats too fast it may not be able to pump enough blood to the rest of your body. This can result in chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and even fainting. Nonspecific tachycardia means that the specific cause or pattern of your tachycardia is unknown.

CAUSES

Tachycardia may be harmless or it may be due to a more serious underlying cause. Possible causes of tachycardia include:

  • Exercise or exertion.

  • Fever.

  • Pain or injury.

  • Infection.

  • Loss of body fluids (dehydration).

  • Overactive thyroid.

  • Lack of red blood cells (anemia).

  • Anxiety and stress.

  • Alcohol.

  • Caffeine.

  • Tobacco products.

  • Diet pills.

  • Illegal drugs.

  • Heart disease.

SYMPTOMS

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations).

  • Suddenly feeling your heart beating (cardiac awareness).

  • Dizziness.

  • Tiredness (fatigue).

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Chest pain.

  • Nausea.

  • Fainting.

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver will perform a physical exam and take your medical history. In some cases, a heart specialist (cardiologist) may be consulted. Your caregiver may also order:

  • Blood tests.

  • Electrocardiography. This test records the electrical activity of your heart.

  • A heart monitoring test.

TREATMENT

Treatment will depend on the likely cause of your tachycardia. The goal is to treat the underlying cause of your tachycardia. Treatment methods may include:

  • Replacement of fluids or blood through an intravenous (IV) tube for moderate to severe dehydration or anemia.

  • New medicines or changes in your current medicines.

  • Diet and lifestyle changes.

  • Treatment for certain infections.

  • Stress relief or relaxation methods.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Rest.

  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow.

  • Do not smoke.

  • Avoid:

  • Caffeine.

  • Tobacco.

  • Alcohol.

  • Chocolate.

  • Stimulants such as over-the-counter diet pills or pills that help you stay awake.

  • Situations that cause anxiety or stress.

  • Illegal drugs such as marijuana, phencyclidine (PCP), and cocaine.

  • Only take medicine as directed by your caregiver.

  • Keep all follow-up appointments as directed by your caregiver.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have pain in your chest, upper arms, jaw, or neck.

  • You become weak, dizzy, or feel faint.

  • You have palpitations that will not go away.

  • You vomit, have diarrhea, or pass blood in your stool.

  • Your skin is cool, pale, and wet.

  • You have a fever that will not go away with rest, fluids, and medicine.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.