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Fast Heart Rate

Topic Overview

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 relaxation.
  • 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 normal.
  • 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 fast heart rate may be caused by a more serious health problem. A heart problem or other medical conditions may sometimes cause a fast heart rate. A fast heart rate may cause palpitations, dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.

Heart rhythm problems that cause a fast heart rate include atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).

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.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Olgin JE, Zipes DP (2015). Specific arrhythmias: Diagnosis and treatment. In DL Mann et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 10th ed., vol. 1, pp. 748–797. Philadelphia: Saunders.
  • Page RL, et al. (2015). 2015 ACC/AHA/HRS guideline for the management of adult patients with supraventricular tachycardia: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. Circulation. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000311. Accessed September 23, 2015.

Credits

Current as ofJuly 22, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
David Messenger, BSc, MD, FRCPC, FCCP - Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD, MMEd, FRCPC - Emergency Medicine


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