Why do our hearts race?

don-t-panic-dan-gerhard-01-300x260Our hearts can begin to pound when our bodies need more oxygen – when we’re being chased, or we’re chasing something or someone. Sexual activity ups your heart rate, as does getting bent out of shape over something that’s happened.

Stress raises the heart rate, as adrenalin and its hormonal relatives course through our system – All Systems Go! Sometimes this is good. Other times, it’s not necessary. Oftentimes, it’s just habit that gets us going – we’re accustomed to getting worked up over matters at work or at home, and our systems switch ON, because we’ve trained them by habit to respond in that way.

Tachycardia (pronounced tacky-CAR-dee-uh) is the official medical term for a faster than normal heart rate. According to the Mayo Clinic*, if you have tachycardia, the rate in the upper chambers or lower chambers of the heart, or both, are increased significantly. Our heart rate is controlled by electrical signals that get transmitted through heart tissues. Tachycardia can occur when there is an abnormality in the heart which produces rapid electrical signals.

Sometimes, tachycardia doesn’t have any unusual symptoms or complications. Unfortunately, it can interfere with your heart’s normal function and increase your risk for conditions like cardiac arrest or stroke.

Depending on your situation, a higher than normal heart rate can mean a number of different things. It can be annoying or it can be alarming. It can mean that you’re just excitable, or it can mean that there’s a serious problem. Remember, only a qualified medical professional can tell you if your heart racing is tachycardia or a serious medical condition, so if your heart rate is elevated, and it’s a concern to you, see your doctor as soon as possible.

* See http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tachycardia/basics/definition/con-20043012 for more details