A rapid heartbeat, or tachycardia, is a heart rate that is faster than what is considered normal. The Cleveland Clinic states that women, on average, tend to have a faster baseline heart rate than men. The difference in heart rates can be seen in girls as young as five years old. A heart rate over 100 beats per minute while at rest is considered tachycardia.
Normal Heart Rate For a Woman
The heart has a rhythm that is regulated by electrical signals which are sent across the tissues of the heart. When at rest, the normal heart rate for an adult woman is 60 to 100 beats a minute, according to Mayoclinic.com. A heart rate over 100 beats a minute should be discussed with your doctor.
Tachycardia can cause shortness of breath, rapid pulse rate, fainting, dizziness, lightheadedness, a tired feeling, and heart palpitations. Heart palpitations may include a racing heart, or an irregular heartbeat. Tachycardia can interfere with normal heart function, and may increase a person's risk for heart attack or stroke. For that reason, you should seek immediate medical care if you have shortness of breath, if you faint, or if you experience chest pain.
Reasons for Tachycardias
There are many reasons for why you can experience a rapid heartbeat. Consuming a lot of caffeine can cause a racing heartbeat. High blood pressure, smoking and overactive thyroid can also cause tachycardia. If heart disease damages your heart tissues, this can also cause a rapid heartbeat. Other reasons for tachycardia include drug abuse, electrolyte imbalance and congenital heart abnormality.
Rapid Heartbeat Due to Lack of Hormones
Hormones may have an effect on your heartbeat. The Cleveland Clinic reports that during perimenopause there is a decrease in the production of ovarian estrogen. This hormonal change is associated with an increase in heart rate. In menopause there is an even larger dip in the production of estrogen. Therefore, irregular heartbeats can be seen in women who are between 40 and 64 years of age.
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Conditions Seen More Often in Women
There are some abnormal heart rhythm conditions which are seen more often in women. They include: supraventricular tachycardia, which causes a rapid heart beat; and AV nodal re-entry tachycardia, which also involves tachycardia. Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, is a condition that affects more women than men. People with this condition respond abnormally when they change body position. One of the symptoms of this condition includes an increased heart rate.
How Tachycardias are Diagnosed
Your doctor may be able to tell you the reason for your tachycardia based on the answers to the questions she will ask you. She may recommend some tests, such as an EKG, which is one of the first diagnostic tools used for tachycardia. Your doctor may also recommend you use a holter monitor or event monitor at home. These are portable EKG devices. A tilt table test may also be recommended if fainting is a problem.