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How to control tachycardia

Updated in June 2019

To quickly control tachycardia, which can be accompanied by tiredness and shortness of breath, it is recommended you breathe deeply for 3 to 5 minutes or to put cool water on your face, to calm down.

However, to normalize your accelerated heart rate, accompanied by discomfort and feeling faint it is important to lie down and call an ambulance dialing 911 (US) or 999 (UK), especially when the tachycardia happens while you are resting, like during your sleep, for example.

See what is your recommended heart rate according to your age.

How to control tachycardia

What should you do to normalize your heart rate

Some techniques that may help normalize your heart rate are:

  1. Stand and bend your torso towards your legs;
  2. Coughing hard 5 times;
  3. Blow out air slowly with your mouth half-closed 5 times;
  4. Take a deep breath, inhaling through your nose and blowing the air slowly through your mouth 5 times;
  5. Count the numbers from 60 to 0, slowly and looking up.

Even when tachycardia is emotional being caused by anxiety, fear, some kind of fright or stress these techniques may help.

After using these techniques, the symptoms of tachycardia, such as chest heaviness, palpitations, rapid breathing and weakness will start to subside, eventually disappearing after a few minutes. In these cases, even if tachycardia is controlled, it is important to avoid foods or drinks that increase heart rate, such as chocolate, coffee or energy drinks, like Red Bull.

If the tachycardia lasts more than 30 minutes, it is recommended you go to the emergency room to diagnose the problem and initiate appropriate treatment, which may include the use of medication directly to the vein.

Medication to control tachycardia

Medications to control tachycardia, such as Amiodarone or Flecainide, are usually used when you have a condition that causes sinus tachycardia and should therefore only be taken under the guidance of a cardiologist.

However, some anxiolytic mediations, such as Xanax or Diazepam, can help control tachycardia, especially when the cause for the problem are situations of excessive stress. Usually, these medications are prescribed by the doctor as an SOS, especially in people who have anxiety.

When to go to the doctor

It is recommended you go immediately to the emergency room or see a cardiologist when tachycardia:

  • Takes more than 30 minutes to disappear;
  • There are symptoms such as chest pain radiating to the left arm, headache, or shortness of breath;
  • It comes up more than 2 times a week.

In these cases, tests such as an electrocardiogram are usually done to identify the cause of the tachycardia and the cardiologist recommends the most appropriate treatment.

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