Exercise and weight loss can help limit some of the health risks associated with tachycardia by reducing the negative effects of high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
If you have a plan in place to deal with an episode of a fast heartbeat, you may feel calmer and more in control when one occurs. Talk to your doctor about:
- How to take your pulse and what a normal pulse rate is for you
- When and how to use vagal maneuvers if they are appropriate for you
- When to call your doctor
- When to seek emergency care
Seeking support from family and friends also can help you reduce stress and better manage your tachycardia.
The most effective way to prevent tachycardia is to maintain a healthy heart and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. If you already have heart disease, monitor it and follow your treatment plan to lower your tachycardia risk.
Prevent heart disease
Treat or eliminate risk factors that may lead to heart disease. Take the following steps:
- Exercise and eat a healthy diet. Live a heart-healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and eating a healthy, low-fat diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing heart disease.
- Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. Make lifestyle changes and take medications as prescribed to correct high blood pressure (hypertension) or high cholesterol.
- Stop smoking. If you smoke and can't quit on your own, talk to your doctor about strategies or programs to help you break a smoking habit.
- Drink in moderation. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. For some conditions it's recommended that you completely avoid alcohol. Ask your doctor for advice specific to your condition.
- Don't use recreational drugs. Don't use stimulants, such as cocaine. Talk to your doctor about an appropriate program for you if you need help ending recreational drug use.
- Use over-the-counter medications with caution. Some cold and cough medications contain stimulants that may trigger a rapid heartbeat. Ask your doctor which medications you need to avoid.
- Limit caffeine. If you drink caffeinated beverages, do so in moderation (no more than one to two beverages daily).
- Control stress. Avoid unnecessary stress and learn coping techniques to handle normal stress in a healthy way.
- Go to scheduled checkups. Have regular physical exams and report any signs or symptoms to your doctor.
Monitor and treat existing heart disease
If you already have heart disease, you can take steps to lower your risk of developing tachycardia or another arrhythmia:
- Follow the plan. Be sure you understand your treatment plan, and take all medications as prescribed.
- Report changes immediately. If your symptoms change or get worse or you develop new symptoms, tell your doctor immediately.
Jan. 11, 2017
- Homoud MK, et al. Sinus tachycardia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 19, 2016.
- Marchlinski F. In: Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=331§ionid=40727006. Accessed Aug. 19, 2016.
- Heidenreich J. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Emergency Medicine. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://accessmedicine.com Accessed Aug. 19, 2016.
- What is an arrhythmia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/. Accessed Aug. 19, 2016.
- Overview of arrhythmias. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular_disorders/arrhythmias_and_conduction_disorders/overview_of_arrhythmias.html?qt=arrhythmia&alt=sh. Accessed Aug. 23, 2016.
- What is catheter ablation? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ablation/. Accessed Aug. 25, 2016.
- Prevention & treatment of arrhythmia. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/Prevention-Treatment-of-Arrhythmia_UCM_002026_Article.jsp. Accessed Aug. 25, 2016.
- Riggin ER. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 14, 2016.
- Tachycardia — Fast heart rate. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/AboutArrhythmia/Tachycardia-Fast-Heart-Rate_UCM_302018_Article.jsp#.V7s5Rmf2bIU. Accessed Aug. 22, 2016.
- Venkatachalam KL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 3, 2016.