Tachycardia is defined as an abnormally fast paced heart beat- usually more than 90 beats per minute. During the 40 weeks of pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes several hormonal and physical changes. As a result, the cardiac output increases substantially because the heart has to supply blood to both the mother’s body and the foetus.
Due to factors like development of placenta, growing blood vessel network, growing uterus and other hormonal changes the heart has to work harder. If the heart rate goes above 100 beats per minute (BPM), the woman may experience palpitations and needs immediate medical attention.
A number of factors can cause tachycardia among pregnant women. Some are listed below:
• Blood clots in lungs
• Overdose of prenatal vitamins
• Allergy to prenatal vitamins
• Anxiety, adrenal problems
• Acute blood loss
• Heart diseases
• Numbness in various body parts in severe cases
A pregnant woman suffering from tachycardia may experience various symptoms. Such as:
• Chest pain
Common types of tachycardia include the following:
It is caused by chaotic electrical impulses in atria. These impulses result in rapid, uncoordinated, weak contractions of the atria. Though this condition may be temporary, some cases won’t end without treatment. Patients with atrial fibrillation usually have some heart disease or high blood pressure.
This condition has very fast but regular rate of atria because of irregular circuitry within the atria. Episodes of such kind of tachycardia may get better on own but scertain cases need medical attention. People who experience atrial flutter may also experience atrial fibrillations at times.
This kind originates from above the ventricles and is a result of some abnormal circuitry that is usually present from the time of birth.
It is the rapid heart rate that originates with abnormal electrical signals in the ventricles. The rapid beat doesn't allow the ventricles to fill and contract efficiently to pump enough blood to the body. Ventricular tachycardia is often a life-threatening medical emergency.
Occurs when rapid, chaotic electrical impulses cause the ventricles to quiver ineffectively instead of pumping necessary blood to the body. This serious problem is fatal if the heart isn't restored to a normal rhythm within minutes. Most people who experience ventricular fibrillation have an underlying heart disease or have experienced serious trauma, such as being struck by lightning.
There can be some severe complications of tachycardia depending on its type, heartbeat rate, duration of rapid heart rate and existence of other heart conditions. Possible complexities can be:
• Heart failure
• Blood clots that can cause a stroke or heart attack
• Frequent fainting episodes
• Sudden death, in cases of ventricular fibrillations.
Mild tachycardia can be considered normal during pregnancy because the heart has to work harder to pump enough blood to the uterus. Taking adequate rest and drinking fluids can help keeping the body cool. The expecting mother should keep a check on stress and anxiety and can take stress relievers if needed. If the symptoms of tachycardia are not very severe, there is no need to be worried. They might subside on their own.
Though stimulants like caffeine, tobacco, alcohol or drugs should be completely avoided. Also, never use over-the-counter medicines to treat tachycardia. The best option is to seek medical assistance.
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