Ever feel like your heart is beating too fast or too slow? Know the difference between tachycardia and bradycardia and how it’s treated. 

An EKG/ECG, or electrocardiogram, is a test that examines the activity of your heart. A cardiologist or your general healthcare provider may request an ECG reading if they suspect you have a heart condition. Besides heart patients, this test is also recommended for people presenting with symptoms like lightheadedness accompanied by skipped heartbeats. 

During an EKG, a record of the electrical impulses in the heart muscles is obtained. This is done by using electrodes (tiny, sticky patches) that are connected to your skin on the chest, arms, and legs. Tachycardia and Bradycardia are two clinical features identified during this procedure. 

Tachycardia and Bradycardia are caused by irregular heartbeats 一 Also known as arrhythmia. Lightheadedness accompanied by skipped heartbeats(heart palpitations) are two of the major symptoms of arrhythmias. Before we get into the key differences, let’s have a brief overview of the two conditions. 

What is Tachycardia? 

Tachycardia occurs when your heart beats faster than 100 times per minute. A rapid heart rate isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm as it often elevates during exercise or in response to stress. But some types of tachycardia, if left untreated, can lead to major health concerns such as heart failure, stroke, or sudden cardiac death.

What is Bradycardia? 

A slow heart rate is referred to as bradycardia. Normally, the majority of adult hearts beat between 50 and 100 times per minute. If your resting heart rate is slower than normal(beating less than 50 times per minute), you have bradycardia. 

Difference between tachycardia and bradycardia

The following is a side-by-side comparison of the two conditions. 

TachycardiaBradycardia
Heart beats faster than normal Heart beats slower than normal 
Types include- 
Supraventricular: Happens when the electrical signals in the heart’s upper chambers misfire.
Ventricular: Happens when the electrical signals in the lower chamber misfire
Sinus Tachycardia: Elevated heart rate in response to exercise or stress. It is considered normal. 
Types include-
Sinus Bradycardia: Occurs when the sinus node (group of cells that send electrical signals in the heart) sends out signals too slowly or fails to fire off a pulse at all.
Sick Sinus Syndrome: Type of bradycardia caused by an abnormal heart rhythm (Arrhythmia)
Heart block: Caused when signals from the sinus node down to another collection of cells, called the AV node, are cut off.
Symptoms include
-Rapid heartbeats (heart palpitations)
-Lightheadedness
-Shortness of breath 
-Chest pain
Symptoms include
-Difficulty concentrating
-Fainting Dizziness/ lightheadedness
-Shortness of breath
Treatments:
Tachycardia is treated by taking actions to keep the heart from beating abnormally fast. Medication, implanted devices, or other surgeries or treatments are used to treat this condition. If tachycardia is caused by another medical condition, treating the underlying problem will help to lessen or eliminate tachycardia occurrences.
Treatments
Treatment for bradycardia may involve lifestyle changes, medication changes, or the implantation of a pacemaker. If an underlying health issue, such as thyroid disease or sleep apnea, is causing a slower than normal heartbeat, treating that issue will be the top priority. 

Both these conditions can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress, avoiding stimulants that elevate the heart rate, etc. Hence, make sure to treat your body like a temple and schedule regular doctor visits to avoid complications from heart palpitations.

FAQs

– Is tachycardia fast or slow heart rate?

Tachycardia is the medical term used to refer to higher than normal heartbeats. 

– Can a person have tachycardia and bradycardia at the same time?

Yes, this phenomenon is referred to as tachy-brady syndrome or tachycardia-bradycardia syndrome. This condition makes your heart rate fluctuate between beating too quickly (tachycardia) and too slowly (bradycardia). 

– What can cause both tachycardia and bradycardia?

A particular type of arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation (AFib)causes tachy-brady syndrome.  

If you frequently experience heart palpitations for longer than a few seconds, and if they’re accompanied by dizziness, loss of consciousness, or chest or upper-body pain, get your symptoms checked by a cardiologist as soon as possible. To consult experienced cardiologists call +91 – 6366 100 800 or book an appointment online now at Ayu Health Hospitals! 

About the Author

Cardiology
Dr. Magesh Balakrishnan
MBBS, MD, DM (Cardiology) at Ayu Health | Website | + posts

Dr. Magesh Balakrishnan is a renowned cardiologist currently practicing at Ayu Health Hospital, Bangalore.

He has 16 years of experience in this field. He has excellent skills in performing all cardiac diagnostic procedures/ tests. He has performed emergency and elective angiographies and angioplasties, device implantation (Pacemaker, AICD & CRT)