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What is the Difference between Tachycardia and Bradycardia?

Difference between tachycardia and bradycardia

Author:- Mr. Ritesh Sharma

Ever wondered about the difference between tachycardia and bradycardia. Both are types of arrhythmias. The term for arrhythmia related to rapid heartbeats is tachycardia. Conversely, the term for arrhythmia related to slowed heartbeats at the state of rest is bradycardia. The study of both these heart arrhythmias is dense and intricate. Moreover, there are many stark differences between them that set them apart. Let’s take a deep dive into the meaning of tachycardia and bradycardia, the difference between tachycardia and bradycardia, causes, and more below.

Arrhythmia is the irregularities in the heart rhythm. These heart rhythms sometimes cause heart palpitations. On the other hand, sometimes, heart rate below the normal range causes dizziness and the sensation of fainting. Both these arrhythmias can potentially harm the heart and cause abnormal ECG wave on being tested. Let’s study these arrhythmias in all of their complexities in this blog. 

What is Tachycardia?

Before understanding the definition of tachycardia, we must learn about the normal heart rate of humans. A normal human heart beats 60 to 100 times per minute. However, in the condition of tachycardia, the heart rate goes above 100 beats per minute. While the elevated heart rate in this condition naturally causes a state of chaos in the patient, it is not always concerning. The heart rate tends to elevate in response to stress and during physical exertion.

However, this doesn’t mean tachycardia can be left untreated. In many tachycardias, not getting timely treatment can result in conditions like stroke and heart failure. Apart from this, it can also potentially cause cardiac death. Therefore, if you ever suspect tachycardia, you must not panic suddenly, but you must adopt timely treatment to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

What is Bradycardia?

In bradycardia, the heart rate of patients tends to go lower than the normal range in this condition. It goes below 60 beats per minute. Much like tachycardia, bradycardia is also not a situation for sudden panic, but it also requires timely treatment.

Prolonged bradycardia can lead to conditions like heart failure as the blood supply to different parts of the body is inadequate in this case. Besides this, bradycardia is also capable of causing atrial fibrillation, hypotension, and neurological issues in patients. Hence, it also warrants prompt medical attention like tachycardia.

Causes of Tachycardia and Bradycardia

Both tachycardia and bradycardia are caused by different disorders in the human body. We will discuss their causes separately below:

Causes of Tachycardia:

  • Stress and anxiety can cause heart palpitations, resulting in an elevated heart rate.
  • High caffeine levels in the blood can also cause the heart rate to increase above its normal range.
  • Reduced red blood cell count (called anemia in medical terms) can influence the oxygen-carrying capacity of the heart and cause tachycardia.
  • Insufficient fluid levels in the body (dehydration) is another cause of rapid heartbeats.
  • An overactive thyroid gland is also capable of causing rapid heartbeats, increasing the normal heart rate.
  • An imbalance of electrolytes (potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium) in the blood can cause the heart rate to elevate.
  • Heart conditions like supraventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation can contribute to an increased heart rate.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol is another cause of an elevated heart rate.
  • Consuming certain medications and substances leads to inexplicable rapid heartbeats causing tachycardia.

Causes of Bradycardia:

    • Due to tissue damage in old age, the heart rate can get slower than the normal range.
    • Any issues with the heart’s electrical system, such as a heart block, can potentially cause bradycardia.
    • An underactive thyroid gland can lead to the slowing down of the heart rate at the state of rest.
    • Constant pauses in breathing during sleep (also known as sleep apnea) can cause bradycardia.
    • Opioids, sedatives, high blood pressure drugs, and some mental illnesses are capable of causing bradycardia.
    • Athletes tend to develop bradycardia due to their highly efficient hearts.
    • Heart defects in genes are also a major cause of a slow heart rate or bradycardia.
    • A chemical imbalance of electrolytes like calcium or potassium can potentially cause bradycardia.
    • Lupus and rheumatic fever lead to the slowing down of heart rate causing bradycardia.
    • Complications in heart surgeries are also a potential cause of bradycardia.

    Difference between Tachycardia and Bradycardia

    Tachycardia and Bradycardia are both types of heart arrhythmia. The difference between tachycardia and bradycardia is stark. The former refers to a heart rate above 100 BPM and the latter refers to a heart rate below 60 BPM. Let’s study these differences thoroughly below:

    Characteristic

    Tachycardia

    Bradycardia

    Definition

    In this condition, the heart rate exceeds 100 beats per minute.

    In this condition, the heart rate goes lower than 60 beats per minute.

    Types

    Supraventricular

    Ventricular

    Sinus

    Sinus

    Sick Sinus

    Heart Block

    Basic Symptoms

    Heart palpitations

    Shortness of breath

    Chest discomfort/pain

    Dizziness and lightheadedness

    Fatigue

    Feeling of fainting

    Shortness of breath

    In severe cases: Chest Pain

    Diagnosing Method

    Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG)

    Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG)

    Treatment

    Alteration in lifestyle, medical procedures, and medications in severe cases.

    Based on the cause and severity, lifestyle change, medical and pacemaker implantation in too severe cases.

    How do I diagnose Tachycardia and Bradycardia?

    The most efficient way of diagnosing tachycardia and bradycardia is an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG). It will give you a vivid picture of your heart’s electrical activity, subsequently helping you determine the condition you are going through. Through ECG, you will find out the abnormalities in your heart rate which are generally the cause of tachycardia and bradycardia. Apart from this, you can get several medical diagnoses and blood tests done based on the symptoms you are experiencing for the detection of tachycardia and bradycardia. 

    Tachycardia and Bradycardia can plausibly occur in any person. However, with a healthy lifestyle encompassing a good diet, physical activities, and moderation of bad habits, we can easily get rid of them. If you ever suspect either of the two conditions, performing an ECG is crucial for timely detection. 

    After this, based on the severity of your situation, you can adopt the relevant treatment and be fully cured of the medical condition. Spreading awareness for both these cardiovascular conditions is crucial as it can prevent several medical conditions related to the heart and ensure its ideal condition.  

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