The medical term used for a fast heartbeat is tachycardia. When discussing tachycardia several factors should be taken into consideration including a patient's age, other symptoms and the past medical history.
In young adults tachycardia is most often benign "Idiopathic Tachycardia" this is the most likely diagnosis when you are young and healthy and have no other symptoms. Idiopathic Tachycardia could be left alone with no worries and no risk of developing any other health complications. I recommended that individuals with this type of tachycardia cut down on coffee, chocolate, soft drinks and if possible avoid stress!
Another possible etiology of tachycardia in young adults is increased sympathetic stimulation, also known as "fight or flight" response. This is most often a natural response to stressful physical or psychological situations. Tachycardia is also seen during fever, diarrhea and traumatic blood loss. Here I should mention that the "fight or flight" response should be adequate and equal to the stressful event, and this brings us to another etiology of tachycardia which is panic attacks. Panic attacks are described as unusual fear, tachycardia and sometimes with sweating without a stressful situation, these should be treated with proper medication. Tachycardia could be a symptom for a medical condition a common etiology is endocrine disorders such as Hyperthyroidism but these conditions are usually manifested by a group of symptoms and rarely present with only tachycardia; Hyperthyroidism for example presents with increased appetite, weight loss, nervousness and sweating.
Although tachycardia in young adults is most often benign it could be, rarely, caused by a serious conditions for example Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome which is an abnormal electrical pathway in the heart that leads to periods of a fast heartbeat. This syndrome occurs most often in people in their 20s and could lead to serious heart issues and should be treated promptly with a heart catheter.
In older individuals a new tachycardia should be treated as a symptom for a heart or another medical condition, it should not be ignored or considered benign until all the possible pathological causes are ruled out.
The most feared etiology is cardiac infarction, this is commonly present with excruciating chest pain and nausea but in some cases it could present without pain with only one symptom such as tachycardia.
Atrial fibrillation is a common condition in old individuals especially those who had a previous heart conditions. Atrial fibrillation could present with tachycardia and should be treated with proper medication because it could lead to stroke if it was left untreated. As for young adults tachycardia could be a symptom for medical conditions such as endocrine disorders. Another feared etiology of tachycardia in older individuals is blood loss due to internal bleeding; this could be the first sign to diagnose a colon cancer.
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