High heart rate and low heart pressure is likely an indication of atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat within the upper chambers of the heart. With the increase in heart rate of the atria, the ventricles, or the lower chambers of the heart, are unable to completely fill with blood. When the heart pumps, not as much blood flows into the arteries, which can decrease your blood pressure.
Besides a decrease in blood pressure and an increase in heart rate, you also may begin to experience chest pain and a shortness of breath, advises MayoClinic.com. This also may be accompanied by irregular heartbeats as well as weakness, lightheadedness and confusion.
Atrial fibrillation most often develops as a result of abnormalities or damage to the structure of the heart. Both abnormalities and damage to the structure of this organ can affect the electrical signals that tell the heart to beat. Some of the more common culprits are coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, valve abnormalities, congenital heart defects, heart attacks and even sleep apnea or emphysema. Sometimes, stimulants, medications, tobacco, caffeine and alcohol can lead to this disorder.
If left untreated, atrial fibrillation can weaken the muscles of the heart to the point of failure. In this situation, your heart is no longer able to pump enough blood to meet your body’s current needs. The abnormal or chaotic heartbeat associated with this condition also may result in the formation of blood clots. Clots that dislodge from the heart can eventually make their way to the brain and block blood flow, causing a stroke.
The severity of your condition dictates treatment, but often includes correcting the rhythm of your heart as well as treating the cause of the fibrillation, explains the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Cardioversion is one method, using electrical shock or prescription medication to reset the rhythm. This is often followed with another medication to prevent the return of the abnormal or chaotic atrial heartbeat. If this course of treatment fails to improve your condition, your doctor may recommend a procedure to fix the tissue causing the improper electrical signals. Ablation removes damaged tissue disrupting the electrical signals responsible for the beating of the heart, while maze procedures create strategic scar tissue to redirect these electrical signals to return the rhythmic beating of the heart.