Tachycardia in Pregnancy: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Tachycardia is a heart rhythm disorder also known as Arrthymia in which heart beats faster than normal at rest.

Lots of changes occur during pregnancy. Besides the obvious ones, like a growing belly and increasing weight, there are some changes that are not noticeable. One example of this unnoticeable change is an increasing amount of blood in the body.

This increased amount of blood triggers the heart to beat fast and results in an increased heart rate. This increased heart rate is known as Tachycardia.

Tachycardia can be normal and non-harmful during pregnancy. But sometimes it may be serious and can lead to health problems.

In this article:

Effect of Pregnancy on Heart
Symptoms of Tachycardia in Pregnancy
Causes of Tachycardia in Pregnancy
When should Pregnant Lady Consult to her Doctor?
Diagnosis of Tachycardia
Treatment for Tachycardia in Pregnancy
Coping Strategies
Tips of Preventing Tachycardia during Pregnancy
Complications of Tachycardia in Pregnancy

A Guide for Tachycardia in Pregnancy

Effect of Pregnancy on Heart

The heart has a lot of work to do when a baby is growing in the mother’s womb. To increase the growth of babies, the blood supply of the mother should be increased.

In third trimester heart rate of a pregnant lady may increase by 10 to 20 extra beats per minute. In second trimester blood vessels starts to dilate, due to this blood pressure of the mother falls slightly.

So, during pregnancy, heart has to work harder which may lead to some abnormalities like Tachycardia or Heart Palpitation.

The following articles represent symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Tachycardia during pregnancy.

Tachycardia in Pregnancy

Symptoms of Tachycardia in Pregnancy

The experience of heart palpitations in women is different. Some may feel their heart is beating hard. Some might feel their heart is flip-flopping.

Now, the symptoms of Tachycardia in pregnancy are as follows:-

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Pain in chest
  • Sweating
  • Uneasiness
  • Irregular pulse rate
  • Cough with blood

During pregnancy it is difficult to recognize an underlying cardiac disorder. This difficulty is because of similarity between symptoms of pregnancy and cardiac disorder. For example difficulty in breathing, tiredness, swelling etc.

Causes of Tachycardia in Pregnancy

There are many causes that lead to Tachycardia in pregnancy. Most of them are not serious.

Some of the harmless causes are:-

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Increased blood volume
  • Certain foods or drinks which contain caffeine
  • Due to cold or allergy medications
  • Anemia (deficiency of red blood cells)
  • Low level of blood sugar
  • Dehydration

Some serious causes are:-

  • Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
  • Hypertension disorders during pregnancy
  • Heart disorder such as Pulmonary Hypertension or coronary heart diseases
  • Thyroid disorders

It is difficult for a healthcare provider and pregnant women to distinguish the cause of Tachycardia.

When should Pregnant Lady Consult to her Doctor?

Throughout the pregnancy, a pregnant lady has many appointments with her doctor. But whenever she feels that her heart is beating fast on a regular basis which seem to be lasting longer or more intense, she should consult to her doctor.

If symptoms like breathing difficulty, pain in chest, blood in cough, irregular pulse rate etc. are noticed then it indicates that she needs medical attention.

Diagnosis of Tachycardia

Tachycardia is diagnosed by knowing past medical history of the lady. It is important to talk to a doctor if pregnant women had palpitations before, have any other known cardiac disease or have a family history of cardiac disease.

Tests done to diagnose Tachycardia include:-

  • An electrocardiogram is to measure the electrical activity of the heart.
  • Blood tests to check electrolyte imbalances and to check thyroid functioning.
  • A halter monitor test, to measure heart rhythm for an extended period.
  • Chest x-ray to identify possible causes related to the lungs and heart.
  • An ultrasound is just to check how the parts of the heart are working.

Treatment for Tachycardia in Pregnancy

Tachycardia does not necessarily need any treatment.

  • When symptoms are mild and tachycardia does not result from any underlying cause, then the doctor usually will not recommend any treatment.
  • When symptoms are severe, then the doctor prescribes medication and discusses the risks of these medications to the mother.
  • The doctor will not recommend any treatment during first trimester, as risks are higher during this period.
  • If a pregnant woman suffers from arrhythmia, then the doctor usually recommends a procedure known as cardioversion.
  • Cardioversion is considered safe during pregnancy. This procedure involves delivering an electric current to the heart so that the heart can catch its normal rhythm back.

Safely treat all the underlying medical conditions such as anemia and overactive thyroid.

Coping Strategies

  • Have a glass of water just to treat dehydration
  • Drop your work and have a rest if you are active or vice versa
  • Should try meditation just to relax the body
  • Do pregnancy yoga

Tips for Preventing Tachycardia during Pregnancy

These are the following prevention tips:

  • Don’t take any medication without the advice of your doctor
  • Avoid alcohol consumption, smoking and drug abuse
  • Don’t eat food items containing caffeine
  • Don’t overdo any exercise

Try to maintain a healthy weight just to prevent diabetes, high blood pressure etc. conditions which can lead to tachycardia.

Complications of Tachycardia in Pregnancy

1 to 5 percent of pregnancies are affected by tachycardia. If a pregnant woman has a heart issue, then she is in the high-risk category and then the health care provider and cardiologist work together to monitor the heart rate throughout the pregnancy.

Following are the complications due to tachycardia during pregnancy:

  • Fluid in the lungs (Pulmonary edema)
  • Arrhythmia
  • Stroke
  • Death

Conclusion

Heartbeat is an unnoticeable activity during a normal day span. Heart palpitations can be scary, but they are quite common and usually not harmful to the mother and her baby.

Though it is rare, some serious cardiac issues may arise. So, it is necessary to consult and get advice from the doctor about any symptoms which can be seen during pregnancy.

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