The heart of a healthy adult man has a rate of 50-80 beats per minute, and that rate increases (during some physical activity, stress, excitement etc.) and goes up to 160 beats per minute. If you have a paroxysmal tachycardia attack, this rate increases to 160 and above. The onset of paroxysmal tachycardia can last from one minute to several days.
The main symptom is palpitation (heart-pounding). This sudden, increased heart-pounding is followed by anxiety, and some patients say they have the feeling that their life is in danger. Other symptoms are mostly loss of breath, dizziness, and chest pain.
The disease is quite common, especially among young people. However, despite anxiety and fear, paroxysmal tachycardia is usually not a serious disorder. There is a slight risk of congestive cardiac decompensation, but there is practically no danger of other complications.
What to do?
If you feel a strong heartbeat in your chest, which is characteristic of paroxysmal tachycardia, you will be frightened, especially if this never happened to you before. Although there is almost no cause for concern, you should contact your doctor if the symptoms last for longer than a few minutes; you may have some basic disorder, such as atrial fibrillation. It is easier to set a diagnosis of the underlying disease if your doctor examien you while the onset of paroxysmal tachycardia is still ongoing.
Tachycardia is usually not a severe disorder if it occurs in middle aged (and younger) people who do not have any heart problems. Try to relax and use the self-help measures we have suggested below. But if the attacks are frequent, they can be difficult and exhausting, so it will be good to seek help. After examination, your doctor may refer you to the ECG to confirm the diagnosis and exclude other possible causes of (increased) heartbeats.
Self-help: the pulse can be slowed down with certain nerve impulses that can be triggered in several ways. Hold your breath for a while or take a glass of water or wash your face with a cold water. If none of this helps, close the nostrils with fingers, then blow your nose so that your eardrums ”crack”.
If you have had a paroxysmal tachycardia attack, consider taking measures to prevent new seizures. Cigarettes, alcohol, tea and coffee can increase the sensitivity, so try to reduce the amount of those. There seems to be a connection between anxiety and tachycardia, although it is not certain whether anxiety leads to seizures or vice versa. In any case, if you reduce the degree of anxiety, it will certainly help your general health condition.
Professional help: a doctor can massage your cervical artery; gentle pressure will slow down the work of the heart. (A word of advice: you should never accept these massages from an unprofessional person. This may be dangerous!) If the attack justifies further treatment, your doctor may inject anti-arrhythmic agents into your bloodstream.
To prevent seizures, a physician may determine a particular agent, such as a beta blocker. Such agents reduce the irritability of the heart muscle.