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Tachycardia & Potassium

By Joseph Pritchard

Tachycardia is a condition that causes your resting heart rate to elevate to higher than normal, which for an adult at rest is 60 to 100 times per minute. Symptoms include dizziness, light-headedness, elevated pulse rate, palpitations and chest pain, notes. Heart disease, high blood pressure and imbalanced levels of electrolytes like potassium are possible causes of tachycardia. Abnormal levels of potassium coupled with heart disease potentially cause tachycardia, according to a study published in a 2001 issue of the “Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology.”

Types of Tachycardia

Atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and ventricular tachycardia are examples of different types of tachycardia., explains. Atrial fibrillation is characterized by rapid heart rate induced by chaotic electrical impulses in the atria. Because the signals are chaotic, they result in rapid, uncoordinated and weak contractions of your atria. Most people with atrial fibrillation have structural abnormalities in their heart because of heart disease or hypertension. Alcohol abuse and hyperthyroidism also contribute to atrial fibrillation. Irregular circuitry within the atria causes your heart rate to become fast but your contractions to be weak, resulting in atrial flutter. People who experience atrial flutter sometimes also experience atrial fibrillation. Ventricular tachycardia is caused by abnormal electrical signals in your ventricles that result in rapid heart rate. The rapid heart rate does not allow your ventricles to properly fill and contract efficiently. This impairs your heart’s ability to properly pump blood throughout your body. Ventricular tachycardia is potentially fatal and requires immediate medical attention.

Potassium and Ventricular Tachycardia

A study published in a 2011 issue of “The Annals of Thoracic Surgery” found that potassium is a useful means of resolving ventricular tachycardia. The technique involves injecting a high concentration of potassium chloride into the aorta root during open heart surgeries. Using potassium alleviated tachycardia without the need for defibrillation. However, more research is needed to determine other possible methods of using potassium to alleviate ventricular tachycardia.

Potassium Therapy for Atrial Tachycardia

Magnesium and potassium are useful in alleviating atrial tachycardia, according to a study featured in a 1985 issue of the “American Heart Journal.” The study found that using potassium supplements with 7 to 12 grams of magnesium sulfate helps stabilize atrial cell ionic balance, helping alleviate atrial tachycardia. Further research is needed to determine the other factors that contribute to potassium’s therapeutic effect on atrial tachycardia.

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily intake dose for potassium is 2,000 milligrams for adults and children over the age of 10, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes. Infants and children up to 5 years of age require 500 to 1,400 milligrams of potassium daily. Children between the ages of 6 and 9 need about 1,600 milligrams per day.

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