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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Arrhythmias

Question: Can a rapid hearbeat cause any damage?

 Stormy94 - Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:40 am

I just have a quick question that I would like answered.

I want to know if having a rapid hearbeat can be damaging at all, especially if you have a rapid hearbeat for a prolonged period of time. When I say "prolonged" I mean anywhere from an hour to several hours etc.

I have heard that it isn't damaging in itself, but I would think from my own logic that it is still bad, because it stresses the heart.

Thanks in advance for any answers.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:23 pm

User avatar Hi there -

To answer your question directly, in an otherwise healthy young person a rapid heartbeat (assuming it is not ventricular in origin, which is another issue entirely) will not damage a healthy heart, even if sustained for a really long time (months, even). It may be uncomfortable, and it probably suggests some other thing that needs correcting (and which if corrected would result in a normalizing of the heart rate), but no, in itself a rapid heart rate will not cause damage to the heart. It can, however, not only feel unpleasant but can contribute to fatigue in some people.

Hope this answers your question to your satisfaction. Please follow up with us as needed. Oh, and just out of curiosity, what is considered a rapid heartbeat (rate) in this instance?

Good luck to you.
 MedicalB - Sun Jan 11, 2009 6:03 pm

hi, there can be a risk if the the tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) is form the ventricle or there are anthoner simptoms associated with tachycardia like: swoon,breathing problems, insufficient blood irrigation...
 John Kenyon, CNA - Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:52 pm

User avatar For MedicalB - Yes, as I stated in my original reply, ventricular tachycardias are generally of more concern, but even those themselves do not damage the heart, just the whole patient. They are a completely different phenomenon from simply a "rapid heart rate", however. Your point is valid, just not in the same area of concern. Thanks for the addition, however.
 outback_jack - Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:11 pm


When having some examinations for another problem (not heart-related), it was found that I have an unusually high resting pulse of 97. This figure is defintely my correct resting pulse (not just temporary), since the same figure was recorded over a number of days at a number of times.

I have heard that anything over 100 is abnormal, so a resting of pulse of 97, although not pathological, is certainly unusually high. [ Additional Info: I'm male, 37, average weight, and my blood pressure is 130/77 - high average , no known heart problems]

I've learned that studies have shown that a high resting pulse is a risk factor for heart problems, the higher the resting pulse the greater the chances of a heart attack (however these studies were on people who had previous heart conditions, so it's not known if the same is true for healthy people).

Can anyone explain to me the wide variations in normal resting pulse (50-100) and tell me if I should be concerned with my own normal but high resting pulse of 97?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:20 pm

User avatar Hi again -

The range of "normal" for heart rate is based on a spectrum of averages of healthy people, and is quite broad, mainly because during the coure of a typical day our rates do vary a lot from morning to night (and during the night as well), depending on a lot of factors. What may be normal for one person isn't normal for another, and the range of 50 or 60 (depending on which book you're reading) to 100 is really fairly arbitrary. Much of the average rate of an individual would be based on height, ,weight, body mass index, innate metabolic rate, and any transient stressors, illnesses, etc. So you can see there is naturally a lot of variation.

While the textbook average "normal" heart rate is 72, that's a ridiculous number in reality. By the same token, if your average rate tends toward the lower end of the spectrum and becomes faster for a while, the cause could be anything from a change in metabolic rate to thyroid disease, etc. The fact remains that while it is sometimes suggestive of something having changed, it's not a definitive marker for anything (other than fever, which almost always will make the rate faster).

While it's true an accellerated resting heart rate is of some concern in people with certain types of heart disease, even this has so many qualifiers to it that it's not much use as a diagnostic sign, and in otherwise healthy people an increased rate won't cause any damage to the heart, although it can reflect (as a symptom or sign) that there is already some damage or disease present.

If your resting rate of 97 (average?) is normal for you, then it's fine. If it reperesents a change from normal for you, and it is consistently up near the high end of normal (which isn't cut precisely at 100, either, but they have to draw a line somewhere for reference purposes), then it may reflect a metabolic problem, anemia, a passing viral infection, or a metabolic shift. If cardiological workups show no problems then the rate itself is not the primary concern, and if there's no serious underlying illness present, then it's fine to have an average resting rate up around 100.
 PrettyGirl Cassie - Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:47 pm

Hi Doctor,

I have been diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia many years ago and I have been taking verapamil 120mg daily, I just noticed that lately, after taking it, it will cause some more palpitations. I thought this tablets should make my heartbeat normal?
I did skip a dose sometimes, like 2 days or 3 days when I don't have any palpitations, will that make my arrythmia worse, or can it cause damage to my heart? And is benign VT can lead to a dangerous VT? Also, I've been having chronic headaches for 2 months now, could it be related to the VT? I noticed that when I try to press the part of my head that feels sore, my palpitations will start.

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