Medical History and Physical Exam for a Fast Heart Rate
A medical history and physical exam are
routinely used to evaluate an illness or disease. A medical history and
physical exam can often reveal as much or more than many diagnostic lab tests
because they help uncover important clues about your illness. The medical
history and physical exam will often direct further testing.
doctor may ask questions similar to the following:
- What symptoms have you experienced?
- Have you ever lost consciousness?
- How long did the
- Have the symptoms ever occurred before?
- Did anything make the symptoms better or worse (such as slow, deep
breathing or holding your breath)?
- What were you doing when you
first noticed the symptoms?
- Does physical activity bring on your
symptoms or make them worse?
- Did you take your pulse when you had
the symptoms? If you did, how fast or slow was your heart beating? Was it
- What medicines are you currently taking?
- Do you have any history of thyroid problems?
- Do you
family history of heart disease?
- Do you
drink alcohol or smoke? Do you use any illegal drugs? If so, how
- Do you exercise?
During a physical exam, the doctor
- Take your blood pressure.
your pulse to see how fast your heart is beating and whether your heart rhythm
- Listen to your heart through a stethoscope.
- Check your lung sounds by listening through a stethoscope.
- Check the veins in your neck for different types of pulsations.
Why It Is Done
A medical history and physical exam
are important ways to evaluate any heart problem.
Normal findings include the following:
- Blood pressure and pulse rate are normal.
- Breathing and heart rhythm and rate are normal.
Abnormal findings that may suggest a problem from a fast
heart rate include:
If physical findings and your medical history strongly
suggest a very irregular heartbeat, further testing will be done.
What To Think About
It is important to provide your
doctor with detailed information about your symptoms, past medical history, and
Complete the medical test information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this test.
Other Works Consulted
Blomström-Lunqvist C, et al. (2003). ACC/AHA/ESC
guidelines for the management of patients with supraventricular
arrhythmias—Executive summary: A report of the ACC/AHA/ESC Committee for
Practice Guidelines. Circulation, 108(15):
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||John M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology|
|Last Revised||August 9, 2012|