After surgery, your heart rate may increase. The condition is called postoperative tachycardia, in which heart rates are higher than 100 beats per minute.
According to the American Heart Association, a normal resting heart rate for adults ranges between 60-100 beats per minute, although it varies from person to person and is affected by certain factors such as
- Age: Children have a higher resting heart rate than adults.
- Exercise: Temporary increases in heart rate may occur during physical activity.
- Emotions: Extreme emotions, stress, and anxiety can affect heart rate for a short period of time (physiological tachycardia).
- Weather: Heart rate may be slightly elevated in higher temperatures and humidity levels.
- Weight: Obese people tend to have a higher heart rate.
- Medications: Beta-blockers tend to slow down heart rate, whereas thyroid medications can increase the heart rate.
- Substance use: Tea, coffee, and tobacco can increase heart rate.
What are different types of tachycardia?
Heart rhythm issues (arrhythmias) that can cause tachycardia include:
- Atrial fibrillation: Most commonly found disorder caused by irregular electrical impulses in the atria (upper chamber of the heart).
- Atrial flutter: Fast heart beats due to abnormal circuit inside the right atrium.
- Supraventricular tachycardia: Fast heart beats in the ventricles (lower chamber of the heart) caused by abnormal electrical circuits.
- Ventricular tachycardia: Arrhythmia caused by abnormal signals in the lower chamber of the heart.
What causes tachycardia after surgery?
Postoperative tachycardia may be a result of catecholamine release in response to surgical stress and could be related to conditions such as:
- Anemia prior to surgery
- Anxiety and fear of surgery
- Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose level)
- Severe bleeding during surgery
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Fever or sepsis due to infections
What are the symptoms of tachycardia?
Symptoms of tachycardia include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Palpitations (fast, pounding, or fluttering heartbeat)
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How can you prevent increased heart rate after surgery?
Here are some tips you can follow before and after the surgery to reduce the likelihood of postoperative tachycardia and other complications:
- Eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet to improve surgical outcomes.
- Exercise moderately 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week.
- Drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated.
- Avoid stress during and after the surgery.
- Avoid or quit smoking.
- Avoid or limit alcohol consumption.
- Limit your intake of stimulants such as tea and coffee.
- Get enough sleep.
- Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
Is postoperative tachycardia normal?
Most of the time, postoperative tachycardia lasts for a short period, hours to days.
However, if it lasts longer or is left undiagnosed or untreated, it can affect heart functions and may lead to serious complications such as:
- Stroke (interrupted blood supply to the brain)
- Heart failure
- Cardiac arrest
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
James Beckerman. Your Heart Rate. WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/watching-rate-monitor
Rakesh Gopinathannair. Management of tachycardia. NIH: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4447058/
James Beckerman. Tachycardia: Causes, Types, and Symptoms: https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/atrial-fibrillation/what-are-the-types-of-tachycardia
Pulse & Heart Rate. Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/17402-pulse--heart-rate
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