Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)

Tachycardia, tachycardia, paroxymal supraventricular tachycardia, AV node reentry tachycardia, abnormally fast heartbeat, Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome. The term describes a whole group of different cardiac arrhythmias. What they have in common is an inappropriately fast pulse of more than 100 beats per minute and an origin of the arrhythmia above the ventricles.

Mostly younger patients are affected, women more often than men. Seizure-like supraventricular tachycardia (i.e. accelerated heart rates emanating from the atrium); the point of origin is the AV node. Triggers can be additional (atrioventricular) pathways (also called Kent bundles) from the atrium to the ventricle.

Besides several rarer forms, the most common representative of AV node reentry tachycardia is Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome. However, there are also forms in which no additional conduction pathways are found. In these cases, the AV node itself is usually equipped with abnormal conduction characteristics.

The majority of patients are healthy and have no underlying heart disease. A tachycardia is a seizure-like form of tachycardia in which a regular pulse can be felt and which ends as quickly as it began. The seizures can last from minutes to hours.

After the phases, there may be a sudden urge to urinate and a flood of urine. In otherwise healthy patients, no further symptoms usually occur. However, in the case of pre-existing heart failure (cardiac insufficiency), there may be a critical limitation of the pumping function with chest pain (angina pectoris) and dizziness up to syncope (fainting spells).

Symptoms: Shortness of breath

If breathing difficulties occur with the palpitations, a doctor should be consulted. The shortness of breath indicates that the body is not being supplied with enough oxygen. On the one hand, this is caused by the fact that the heart no longer works economically due to the high heart rate and thus pumps too little blood volume per time through the body.

Since the blood is responsible for the oxygen supply to the tissues, the body suffers an oxygen deficiency, which causes the symptom of shortness of breath. Another aspect is that the blood flow through the lungs can no longer function properly due to the racing of the heart, which also leads to a poorer oxygen supply. The onset of shortness of breath when the heart is racing is therefore an indicator that the function of the heart is already being restricted by the racing of the heart and that the problem thus affects the whole body. In the case of palpitations as a result of panic attacks, breathing difficulties may also occur, but this is due to psychological reasons and is not the result of a real lack of oxygen in the organs of the body.