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Tachycardia

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by McCoy K

(Ventricular Tachycardia; Supraventricular Tachycardia; Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia)

 

Definition

Tachycardia is a rapid heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute. Sinus tachycardia, from the heart's sinus node, is a normal response to exercise, illness, or stress.
There are several types of abnormal tachycardias or arrhythmias . These can come from two places:
  • Atria (the two smaller chambers on the top of the heart)—called supraventricular tachycardias
  • Ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart)—called ventricular tachycardia
This condition can be life-threatening. But, it can be treated. If you think you or someone you know has this condition, get emergency help.
Electrical System and Chambers of the Heart
Nucleus fact sheet image
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Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of having tachycardia. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following:
  • Heart disease, especially a prior heart attack
  • Cardiomyopathy —damage to the muscle wall of the lower chambers of the heart
  • Electrolyte abnormalities—too much or too little calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium in the blood
  • Myocardial ischemia—insufficient blood flow to heart muscle tissue
  • Hypoxemia—not enough oxygen in the blood
  • Acidosis—too much acid in the body’s fluids
 

Diagnosis

 

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Medications

The following medications are used to treat this condition:
  • Beta-blockers (eg, atenolol, metoprolol, bisoprolol)
  • Calcium channel blockers (eg, diltiazem, verapamil)
  • Anti-arrhythmics, such as flecainide (Ambocor), procainamide (Procanbid), amiodarone (Cordarone), and sotalol (Betapace)

Ablation

Ablation is done during an electrophysiology study. Radiofrequency energy or cold energy is used to destroy the abnormality and possibly cure the problem.

Cardioverison

An electric shock is applied to the heart to stop the abnormal rhythm. This treatment may be done for life-threatening rhythms, such as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation . It is also done for milder arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation .

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

An ICD can be surgically placed into your body. This device monitors your heartbeat. It can apply a shock to correct an irregular heartbeat.
Device to Correct Tachycardia
Nucleus Image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
 

Prevention

Reducing risk of heart disease is the best way you can prevent this condition. Take the following steps:
 

RESOURCES

American Heart Association
http://www.americanheart.org

Heart Rhythm Society
http://www.hrsonline.org/

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Cardiovascular Society
http://www.ccs.ca/

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
http://www.heartandstroke.com/

 

References


Arrhythmia prevention. Heart Rhythm Society website. Available at: http://www.hrspatients.org/patients/risk%5Ffactors/default.asp . Accessed April 19, 2007.


Implantable cardioverter defibrillator. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/270.xml . Accessed April 19, 2007.


Paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed101.epnet.com/Detail.aspx?id=113613 . Accessed April 19, 2007.


Ventricular tachycardia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed102.epnet.com/Detail.aspx?id=115268 . Accessed April 19, 2007.


What are arrhythmias? American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=560 . Accessed April 19, 2007.

 

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