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Sinus Tachycardia

Sinus tachycardia is diagnosed when the heart rate is quicker than normal, but the heart continues to beat properly. The average resting heartbeat for an adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Sinus tachycardia causes the heart to beat more than 100 beats per minute, which is considered too fast. You have probably experienced sinus tachycardia when startled, anxious or after a hard workout.

A rapid heartbeat is the body's normal response to fright or strenuous exercise. However, it may become a problem if the condition occurs while at rest for no known reason. This is called inappropriate sinus tachycardia, and adults who experience this should seek evaluation from a healthcare professional.

  • Symptoms

    • Chest pain
    • Heart palpitations
    • Increased heartbeat
    • Light-headedness or dizziness  
  • Prevention

    It is not always possible to prevent sinus tachycardia, but your healthcare provider can work with you to find and avoid triggers that lead to the abnormal heart rhythm.

  • Risk Factors

    • Abnormal thyroid activity
    • Anemia
    • Emotional distress
    • Fever
    • Heart damage
    • Heavy bleeding
    • Pregnancy
    • Strenuous physical activity
    • Taking or discontinuing certain medications
  • Diagnosis

    • Physical examination. Your physician will look at your family history for any presence of the condition. You may be asked to give a detailed account of any recent medications, drug or caffeine usage, history of heart disease, or exposure to toxins.
    • Electrocardiogram (ECG). This test will help your healthcare provider determine if you have sinus tachycardia, or rule out a similar condition. During the test, small patches called electrodes are placed on several areas of the body. These electrodes are connected to a machine that translates the heart's electrical signals into images. Your provider will read the results to look for an abnormal heart rhythm.
    • Holter monitor. This test provides a 24-hour reading of your heart rate during normal daily activity. Your provider will use this to detect inappropriate sinus tachycardia. For this test, you will wear a portable, battery-operated monitor that determines the heart's response to normal activity.
  • Treatment

    • Sinus tachycardia related to physical activity or emotional stress is usually resolved or improved by addressing the underlying condition.
    • Inappropriate sinus tachycardia may require treatment. Your physician will find and treat the cause for abnormal heart rhythm when it is the result of another heart problem.
  • Follow-up Care

    Keep follow-up appointments for continued monitoring of the condition. Your physician will watch for any further complications of the heart problem.