Fast Heart Rate
Fast Heart Rate
A normal heart rate for a healthy adult is between 60 and
100 beats per minute. Heart rates of more than 100 beats per minute
(tachycardia) can be caused by:
- Exercise or stress. This fast heart rate usually
returns to normal range (60 to 100 beats per minute) with rest and
- Illnesses that cause fever. When the cause of the fever
goes away, the heart rate usually returns to normal.
- Dehydration. When the dehydration is treated, the
heart rate usually returns to normal.
- Medicine side effects,
especially asthma medicines.
- Heavy smoking, alcohol, or too much
caffeine or other stimulants, such as diet pills. Stopping the use of tobacco,
alcohol, caffeine, or other stimulants may help your heart rate return to
- Cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines.
Babies and children younger than 2 years old have higher
heart rates because their body metabolism is faster. Heart rates decrease as
children grow, and usually by the teen years the heart rate is in the same
range as an adult's.
A new fast heart rate may be caused by a more
serious health problem. Heart disease or other medical conditions may sometimes
cause a fast heart rate. A fast heart rate may cause
lightheadedness, or fainting. Atrial fibrillation is
the most common type of fast heartbeat. It causes the heart's upper chambers to
beat irregularly, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle and to the rest of
the body. Atrial fibrillation increases your chance of having a
stroke or a blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
If you have
heart disease or
heart failure, or if you have had a
heart attack, be sure you understand the seriousness
of a change in your heart rate or rhythm.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
David Messenger, MD; H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
September 13, 2012
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