Home Heart healthArrhythmia What is tachycardia: Cause, symptoms and prevention

What is tachycardia: Cause, symptoms and prevention

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

You have undoubtedly felt that your heart beats faster than usual; that is nothing more than an episode of tachycardia, that is, your heart rate exceeds 100 beats per minute. The average heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute for an adult at rest. When episodes of tachycardia occur, the pulsations can even reach up to 250 beats per minute and be dangerous for the individual’s health.

The increase in heart rate can appear at any time of the day; when it occurs while we sleep, we can wake up startled without really knowing why. These variations are generally harmless, but if they become frequent, consult your doctor. In many cases, nocturnal tachycardias go unnoticed and unattended. Still, if they become routine, they could be a symptom of more complex conditions, so it is advisable to study their causes. At FastlyHeal, we answer, ” why do I get tachycardia at night?”

What is tachycardia?

Tachycardia is described as occasional episodes of increased heart rate; that is, the heart, at times, accelerates above 100 beats per minute, which would be the standard upper limit. These episodes have to do with failures in the transmission of electrical impulses that generally make the heart pump. Many reasons can affect this sophisticated electrical system that controls the work of the heart. It is important to remember that this organ is a muscle just like the others we have in the body, with the difference that we cannot voluntarily control its movement. This control task is carried out through an electrical system that synchronizes the activity of the different parts that make up the heart muscle.

Studies reveal that tachycardia episodes have 1 to 3 cases per 1,000 people. They are more common in healthy, middle-aged adults and older people. They can also appear in patients who have suffered a myocardial infarction, a valve prolapse, rheumatic heart disease, pericarditis, pneumonia, or chronic lung disease.

Tachycardia episodes are highly variable, and depending on the causes that produce them, different types have been described. These can last from a few seconds to several hours. On some occasions, to avoid further damage to health, it is even necessary to go to the emergency room to interrupt the episode with treatment. Tachycardias can be benign, but if they are solid and frequent, it is required to go to the doctor and study their origin, mainly because, in some cases, they can go unnoticed. Still, the symptoms can be very annoying in others and cause great anguish.

When the heart beats in an accelerated way, its job of pumping blood to the different organs is damaged; if the blood does not reach the other organs in sufficient quantity, then the tissues can suffer because the amount of oxygen is insufficient. The person may experience dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.

Nocturnal tachycardias: causes

Although, in most cases, tachycardias are harmless, it is advisable to consult your doctor if the episodes occur repeatedly. The cardiologist will need to consider all symptoms and assess what is causing the tachycardia. Indeed, in addition to the physical check-up and blood tests, you will ask for an EKG, Holter (or 24- or 48-hour EKG), or echocardiogram. Among the most common causes of tachycardia at night are:

  • Emotions such as stress, anxiety, or nervousness resulting from a dream or nightmare or the worries of the day, are perhaps the most common cause of nocturnal tachycardias.
  • A heavy and copious dinner can make it difficult to fall asleep and lead to a tachycardia episode.
  • Excessive consumption of stimulant beverages such as tea, coffee, soda, or alcoholic beverages.
  • Nicotine from tobacco.
  • Fever.

Other conditions can cause nocturnal tachycardias; these are conditions that deserve more attention, as they can put the person’s health at risk. In this category, you will find:

  • Different acquired or congenital heart diseases.
  • Damage to the heart’s electrical system for congenital reasons or due to an imbalance of electrolytes in the body; sometimes dehydration can cause this imbalance.
  • Sleep apnea .
  • Thyroid diseases.
  • A marked decrease in blood pressure can lead to an increase in heart rate to compensate for the distribution of blood to the different organs.
  • A side effect of any medication.

In some cases, the exact cause of tachycardia cannot be determined.

Risk factors and complications of sleeping tachycardia

As we mentioned earlier, Nocturnal tachycardia is a series of episodes generated mainly through stressful situations. Undoubtedly, some factors increase the possibility of these episodes occurring where the heart rhythm is altered. Among the risk factors are:

  • Heart disease or hypertension
  • Smoking, alcohol, and caffeine consumption in excess.
  • The use of drugs.
  • Stressful situations in general.

These can be helped with changes in habits and medications. Other factors increase the risk of suffering from tachycardias, such as age, since the passing of the years tends to wear down the heart and makes it prone to suffer from tachycardias; heredity, if tachycardia or some other heart disease is present in the family, among other risk factors.

Although it is a relatively benign condition, in some cases, several factors may coincide that aggravate the person’s situation. The severity of the disease will depend on what causes the tachycardia and if several risk factors are added. The complications of this condition are related to the type of tachycardia, the recurrence, and the duration of these episodes, in addition to the fact that there are pre-existing conditions that complicate the individual’s health. Possible complications include:

  • Blood clots can cause strokes.
  • Heart failure .
  • Frequent fainting
  • Sudden death (from ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation).

Symptoms of nocturnal tachycardias

Indeed, sometimes people with tachycardia do not have obvious symptoms, so they only find out about their condition after a medical examination or an EKG. However, in most cases, people perceive different symptoms due to these heart rate changes. Some individuals even express feeling significantly affected in their daily lives because the increases in the heart rate are so substantial that they generate a lot of anguish and even the feeling that they will die instantly. Patients even report not wanting to go outside and being very afraid of an episode at any time.

Among the symptoms you may feel if it is nocturnal tachycardia are:

  • Wake up with a start in the middle of sleep with your heart racing as if it were going to come out of your mouth.
  • Palpitations in the chest, neck, and throat.
  • Increase in blood pressure even to very high values.
  • A very marked decrease in blood pressure.
  • Shortness of breath, mild chest pain, and dizziness.

What to do if you have tachycardia when you wake up at night?

If you have consulted your doctor and the nocturnal tachycardia that you suffer does not have its origin in some serious reason, the following tips can help you.

The main thing to avoid nocturnal tachycardias is to act on the factors that produce them, which in general, in mild cases, are linked to stress. Therefore, it is advisable to control pressure, not think about problems when going to bed, and try to disconnect from worries. It can help you listen to soft music or watch a comedy or movie that makes you laugh. In addition to distracting you, this will help you divert your thoughts and not think about the things that overwhelm you; even if you feel it is necessary, you can go to a psychologist or psychiatrist to repair what is weighing you down. You can also take a hot infusion of chamomile, linden, laurel, or other infusions with relaxing properties, take a warm bath, or practice meditation.

On the other hand, during the day, it is recommended to follow healthy eating habits, maintain eating and sleeping schedules and, in addition, practice an exercise routine. It is especially recommended to reduce refined sugar consumption and stimulate drinks such as tea and coffee or cola sodas. Tobacco and alcohol should also be suppressed.

If you already have an episode of nocturnal tachycardia, you can go back to all the previous recommendations to calm yourself and go back to sleep; you can even try doing breathing exercises to lower your heart rate.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why do I get tachycardia at night , we recommend that you enter our Blood, heart and circulation category .

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