Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms, conduct a thorough physical examination, and ask you about your health habits and medical history. You may also be tested by:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG; EKG). It’s a painless test that detects and records your heart’s electrical activity using small sensors (electrodes) attached to your chest and arms. It can be used to determine what kind of tachycardia you have and how abnormalities in the heart may be contributing to a fast heart rate.
- Electrophysiological test. It’s used to confirm the diagnosis or to pinpoint the location of problems in your heart’s circuitry.
- Cardiac imaging. It’s used to to determine if structural abnormalities are affecting blood flow and contributing to tachycardia. Types of cardiac imaging include echocardiogram (echo), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT), coronary angiogram, and chest X-ray.
- Stress Test. It is used to see how your heart functions while it is working hard during exercise or when medication is given to make it beat fast.
- Tilt table test. It is used to help your doctor better understand how your tachycardia contributes to fainting spells.
- Additional tests. They are ordered to diagnose an underlying condition that is contributing to tachycardia and judge the condition of your heart.
The goals of the treatments for tachycardia are to address the cause of the condition as well as slow a fast heart rate when it occurs, prevent future episodes and minimize complications. They include:
- Vagal maneuvers. They affect the vagus nerve, which helps regulate your heartbeat.
- Medications if vagal maneuvers don’t help. You may need an injection of an anti-arrhythmic medication to restore a normal heart rate. Your doctor also may prescribe a pill version of an anti-arrhythmic drug.
- Cardioversion. It’s generally used when emergency care is needed or when maneuvers and medications aren’t effective.
- Catheter ablation. It can use extreme cold or radiofrequency energy to damage (ablate) the extra electrical pathway that is responsible for an increased heart rate and prevent it from sending electrical signals.
- Medications to prevent a fast heart rate.
- Pacemaker. It is a small device that is surgically implanted under your skin to emit an electrical pulse that helps the heart resume a normal beat.
- Implantable cardioverter. It is surgically implanted in your chest to monitor your heartbeat, detect an increase in heart rate and deliver precisely calibrated electrical shocks, if needed, to restore a normal heart rhythm.
- Surgery. It is usually used only when other treatment options don’t work or when surgery is needed to treat another heart disorder. The goal is to destroy an extra electrical pathway causing tachycardia.
- Blood-thinning medication. It is used to help lower your risk of developing a blood clot that could cause a stroke or heart attack.
- Treating the underlying disease to prevent or minimize tachycardia episodes.