Tachycardia During Pregnancy – Symptoms, Complications and Treatment

5 min read

Written by Pradeep

Pradeep

Tachycardia during pregnancy refers to the condition of having a heart rate above ‘normal.’ A heart rate above 100 beats per minute (BPM) during pregnancy is termed tachycardia. Since a pregnant woman’s heart works harder than normal, the heart rate increases by 10-20 beats per minute. This cause palpitations in many women during pregnancy.

Think about it, and an increased heart rate is actually perfectly natural during the term. The symptoms of tachycardia during pregnancy include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue. In difficult situations, the pregnant mother may faint or experience numbness.

pregnancy tachycardia

In This Article

What Causes Tachycardia During Pregnancy?

In the 40 weeks of pregnancy, a woman’s heart has to work harder to cope with the physical changes and thus can be stressed. The following reasons justify why there is absolutely no need to panic on experiencing a slightly ‘above the limit’ heartbeat.

Doctors usually classify the normal condition under gestational Supra-Ventricular Tachycardia (SVT).

1. Major Causes of Tachycardia

Stress, Anxiety, and Fear:

Hormonal changes, expanding uterus, growing baby, increase in blood vessels, and other changes in the body cause stress to the heart. It can cause tachycardia during pregnancy. Expectant mothers also quite naturally feel a constant sense of dread about the safety of the baby and herself. The psychological tumult can definitely manifest as panic attacks and anxiety.

Overworking Heart:

Your body has to adapt to various changes demanding an increased output from the heart. Besides setting the heartbeat of your growing fetus, your heart also has to meet the needs of replenishing the changing body.

2. Other Causes of Tachycardia Include

  • Excessive blood use and expansion of organs within the body.
  • You grow a placenta in the uterus to offer a safe cushion for the baby. It is essentially a special tissue mass with a deep network of blood vessels and hence puts extra pressure on the heart.
  • Your uterus also grows to its optimum limits, and the body must support this expansion.
  • The rapid proliferation of blood vessels in the bosom needs a constant boost from the heart as well.
  • Diseases like thyroid and anemia also put you at the risk of tachycardia during pregnancy.
  • In addition, the hormonal changes, side effects of pregnancy medications, and excessive weight gain also exert extra stress on your circulatory system.
  • Cigarette smoking, alcoholism, and excessive caffeine intake can increase the heart rate.

woman with chest pain

Types of Tachycardia

Tachycardia for pregnant women can be quite a normal condition. However, you need to understand the difference between both types:

Sinus Tachycardia

This type of tachycardia during pregnancy occurs when the higher rate beat originates from the sinus node, commonly known as the heart’s natural pacemaker. Sinus tachycardia can be appropriate or inappropriate and is quite common in pregnant women.

Non-sinus Tachycardia

Non-sinus tachycardia originates in the chambers of the heart. It is divided as supraventricular (tachycardia during pregnancy that originates from the upper chambers of the heart) and ventricular (tachycardia that originates from the lower chambers of the heart). Though sinus tachycardia is more common, yet it is imperative to get yourself diagnosed by your doctor.

Symptoms of Tachycardia in Pregnant Women

Palpitations, chest pain, breathlessness, fatigue, etc. are some common indicators that your heart is beating faster. A high heart rate in pregnancy can also cause the woman to faint, feel dizzy, making her extensively anxious. Some women, in severe cases, also become intolerant to everything.

Treating Tachycardia During Pregnancy

heart with stethoscope

When the symptoms of tachycardia during pregnancy are mild and are not caused by a serious underlying condition, the doctor will usually advise against treatment.

On the other hand, if the symptoms of tachycardia during pregnancy are severe, then:

  • After considering the risks to you and your baby, your doctor may prescribe medication to regulate your heartbeat.
  • Medicines will be avoided during the first trimester due to an increased risk of birth defects.
  • The doctor may decide to perform cardioversion
  • Cardioversion is a safe procedure in which the doctor uses a timed electrical current to return the heartbeat to its normal rhythm.

Medical Intervention for Tachycardia

Please understand that pregnancy is the most extensive responsibility undertaken by a human body. It is complex, and the conditions vary uniquely from one woman to another. You can definitely consult the doctor if you are facing any of the symptoms of tachycardia.

In fact, tests will show the baby’s heart rate to be completely normal even when the mother is experiencing an increased heartbeat. Most of the time, the palpitations soon cease by themselves, and you find relief. Never take OTC medications on your own. Some of these OTC drugs can cause birth defects in the fetus.

Serious Complications of Tachycardia

Many serious complications are associated with tachycardia during pregnancy. Major complications are:

In fact, an overdose or allergic reaction to prenatal vitamins can also induce stress on the heart. Underlying lung and heart conditions can also become conspicuous during the term. The doctor will do her best to ensure the safety of the mother and the baby, under the unique conditions of the patient.

Medications for Tachycardia

Yes, there are medications for tachycardia. However, do remember that pills are drugs – and may not be safe for you or your baby. Do not simply buy over the counter medicines! Take the medicines only recommended by the doctors.

Most cases of Supraventricular tachycardia seen during pregnancy are harmless and may not need any treatment. It is very important to get yourself properly checked by the doctor and never, ever self-medicate.

FAQ’s

1. Is Tachycardia During Pregnancy Normal?

Pregnancy causes the heart rate to increase in most women. Sinus tachycardia is very common among pregnant women. However, sustained tachycardia is not so common.

2. When can Tachycardia Start in Pregnancy?

It can start anytime in your pregnancy. It depends on your body. however, it commonly starts in the 3rd trimester when the stress on the heart increases.

3. Will Tachycardia Resolve After my Delivery?

Yes, tachycardia during pregnancy will mostly resolve itself after you delivery. When your heart does not have to do all the extra work to support another life, it returns back to normal. If in case it persists, you doctor will prescribe medications.

4. Is Normal Delivery Possible With Tachycardia During Pregnancy?

Yes, vaginal delivery is possible with tachycardia during pregnancy. However, the doctor has to be well experienced in such cases and the hospital must be well equipped to handle emergencies. Many doctors suggest a cesarean delivery to avoid risks.

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