Fast Heart Rate – When To Worry?

By: Dr. Daniel A. Schneider

Experiencing a fast heart rate can be a worrisome occurrence, especially if you are not aware of why it is taking place. Let’s take a brief look at some of the basic questions surrounding a fast heart rate, as well as when to take further action.

What Is Considered A “Fast Heart Rate?”

The definition of a fast heart rate differs depending on the age of the person experiencing it. Typically, it is defined as have a resting heart rate faster than 100 beats per minute for adults.

A fast heart rate is one that is unexpected for a certain level of physical activity. Usually, most adult’s resting heart rate usually lies in the range of 60-80 beats per minute, with some heart rates approaching 100 beats per minute.

Is A Fast Heart Rate Always A Cause for Concern?

There are several different possible causes of an elevated heart rate. While some causes are more worrisome to cardiologists, there are other causes that can be addressed by making lifestyle changes.  Some of these include excitement (which stirs up adrenaline), dehydration, and even the consumption of nicotine or energy drinks.

There are times that having an elevated heart rate makes sense. For instance, if you are fighting a fever or getting over the flu, or are in the process of recovering from a surgery, a fast heart rate is your body’s way of saying it is working. It’s important to monitor your heart rate during these times, but do not become immediately alarmed.

Fast Heart Rate And Age

Concern regarding a fast heart rate is going to differ based on the patient’s age and health. As a general rule, the younger you are, the lower your resting heart rate. As you get older, your resting heart rate increases. Interestingly, however, there are some patients who experience faster and slower heart rates at the same time.  This phenomenon can be seen across many age groups.  Thus, cause for concern is not 100% definable by age.

When To See A Doctor

A person experiencing a fast heart rate should take special note of whether or not he is experiencing additional symptoms. Are there are other things going on that could be making someone feel lousy?

For example, a person who is experiencing shortness of breath, activity intolerance, palpitations, or extreme fatigue should see a doctor immediately.

It’s important to note that many people who are experiencing an elevated heart rate don’t feel it or associate it with other issues. In other words, it can often take a bit of an investigation to discover the cause.

What Is My Role In Checking Out My Fast Heart Rate?

If you are concerned about an elevated heart rate, make sure you aren’t currently dehydrated, and that you are being treated properly for any related medical condition.

If you’ve accounted for common causes of an elevated heart rate including reducing or eliminating caffeine and are still experiencing symptoms, make sure to see a doctor as soon as possible.

What Are Common Tests/Treatments For A Fast Heart Rate?

Common tests and treatments for a fast heart rate include blood pressure measurements, EKGs, and ultrasounds of the heart. A doctor may check to see if your elevated heart rate occurs only with a change in position (i.e. standing up). If so, there could be an imbalance of heart rate and blood pressure control in the body.

Treatment for a fast heart rate will vary greatly based on its cause.

If you are concerned about an elevated heart rate or have additional questions on the topic, I encourage you to schedule an appointment today.


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