What other symptoms might occur with a rapid heartbeat?

A rapid heartbeat may occur with or without noticeable symptoms, which can vary depending on the underlying cause. If you know how to take your own pulse, you will generally feel a rapid pulse at the wrist with a rapid heartbeat. However, in some types of serious rapid heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation, it may be difficult to feel and count an accurate pulse because the heart is not pumping blood effectively enough to produce a strong pulse.

If you are exercising and are in general good health, you might have a fast pulse and feel mildly short of breath during exertion. Normally, the rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath go away quickly after you slow down or stop your workout.

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

A rapid heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia) may occur with other symptoms that can indicate a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have a rapid heartbeat associated with any of the following symptoms:

  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out (fainting) or unresponsiveness

  • Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations or delusions

  • Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure, or palpitations

  • Dizziness

  • Pallor (very pale or gray skin and lips) or cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the lips, nails or skin)

  • Rapid, irregular or weak pulse

  • Respiratory or breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, wheezing, not breathing, or choking

  • Sweating

  • Weakness


What is a rapid heartbeat?

A rapid heartbeat, also called tachycardia, is a condition in which the heart is beating fast, generally more than 100 beats per minute for an adult. A rapid heartbeat can be normal, or it can result from a disease, disorder or other harmful condition.

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What causes a rapid heartbeat?

A rapid heartbeat can be caused by a wide variety of conditions. Your heartbeat will normally speed up during exercise or physical activity and slow down during periods of rest. Sometimes a rapid heartbeat occurs for no known reason.

A rapid heartbeat can also result from certain medical conditions and other causes including:

  • Caffeine

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Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 8, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation