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What do I need to know about tachycardia?

Tachycardia (fast heart rate) is when your heart rate is 100 beats per minute or more at rest. It is normal for the heart rate to increase with activity or exercise and then decrease when you stop. A fast heart rate at rest may be caused by any of the following:

  • Anxiety, stress, or pain
  • Fever
  • Physical fatigue or strenuous exercise
  • Large amounts of caffeine such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks
  • Heavy alcohol use or cigarette smoking
  • Some medicines, inhalers, or street drugs
  • Increased thyroid hormone level

What other symptoms may I have with a fast heart rate?

You may have no other symptoms with your fast heart rate, or you may have any of the following:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Fluttering or pounding heart
  • Shortness of breath

How is a fast heart rate treated?

You may need treatment if your fast heart rate continues or happens often. You may need medicine, procedures, or surgery. Your healthcare provider may send you to a cardiologist for other tests.

What can I do to help prevent a fast heart rate?

  • Decrease the amount of caffeine you drink. Caffeine can increase your heart rate.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can increase your heart rate. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to drink alcohol. Also ask how much is safe for you to drink.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes can cause damage to your heart. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Do not use illegal drugs. Drugs such as meth and cocaine can increase your heart rate. Talk to your healthcare provider if you use illegal drugs and want to quit.
  • Get more rest. Fatigue can cause your heart rate to increase. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
  • Learn ways to cope with stress. Stress, fear, and anxiety can cause a fast heart rate. Your healthcare provider may recommend relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises. Your healthcare provider may recommend you talk to someone about your stress or anxiety, such as a counselor or a trusted friend.

How do I check my heart rate (pulse)?

Your healthcare provider will show you how to check your pulse, and how often to check it. Write down how fast your pulse is and if it feels regular or like it is skipping beats. Also write down the activity you were doing if your heart rate is above 100. Bring the information with you to your follow-up appointment.

How to Take a Pulse

When should I call or have someone else call 911?

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than a few minutes. Chest pain may come and go.
    • Pain in your jaw, neck, one or both arms, upper and lower back, or stomach.
    • Shortness of breath, or panting
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness
  • You cannot be woken.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your pulse is faster than your healthcare provider said it should be.
  • You have frequent periods of a fast heart rate.
  • You feel weak or dizzy.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Tachycardia

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference