Alternate Names : Tachycardia, Fast Heartbeat
A rapid heartbeat is defined as a heart rate that is faster than normal. The heart normally beats fewer than 100 times per minute in adults. In children, the heart can beat slightly faster than 100 times per minute and still be considered normal.
What is going on in the body?
At rest, a person's heart rate usually stays within a standard range. This range is usually 50 to 100 times per minute in adults and slightly faster in children. With increased physical activity, stress, or other conditions, however, the heart rate may increase above the normal level.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
There are many possible causes of a rapid heartbeat, including:
exercise, heavy lifting or other activity that requires exertion
fear, pain, anxiety, stress, anger, or nervousness
dehydration. This may be caused by too little intake of fluids, loss of blood, diarrhea, vomiting, or medications such as diuretics, sometimes called "water pills."
low blood pressure, also called hypotension
hyperthyroidism, which is a level of thyroid hormone in the body that is too high
congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart cannot pump blood effectively
irregular heartbeats, known as arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. These may be caused by salt imbalances, heart attack, and other conditions.
low red blood cell count known as anemia
medications or drugs. Albuterol, which is commonly used to treat asthma, as well as some over the counter and prescription decongestants can cause rapid heartbeat. Cocaine abuse and alcohol withdrawal are other causes of rapid heartbeat.
excessive caffeine intake
some herbal therapies such as ephedra, also called ma huang
infections. These may include such as a serious blood infection called sepsis and pneumonia.
nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy, that affects the nerves attached to the heart. This is often due to diabetes, a condition that results in a high level of blood sugar.
low oxygen in the blood, also called hypoxia. There can be many causes for this. Examples include asthma and emphysema.
Other causes are possible. Sometimes, no cause can be found.