Atrial tachycardia

Atrial tachycardia is a form of supraventricular tachycardiac (SVT), an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that causes a sudden, rapid heart beat.

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What is atrial tachycardia?

Atrial tachycardia arises from a small area (focus) of tissue in the upper chambers of your heart (atria). This focus starts to fire abnormal electrical signals and causes your heart to beat abnormally rapidly.

Usually, the focus only fires intermittently (paroxysmal atrial tachycardia) but it can be more persistent, lasting for days or months, and may require treatment to stop it and restore normal rhythm.

Need to know

Symptoms of atrial tachycardia can vary from no symptoms at all to palpitations, awareness of a rapid heart beat and others such as:

  • chest pains
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness

Atrial tachycardia usually occurs for no apparent reason. However a number of reasons can be factors, and these may include congenital defects, valve problems, or a damaged or weakened heart muscle following a heart attack. Episodes can also be triggered by excess alcohol use or thyroid conditions.

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is the most commonly used test to diagnose atrial tachycardia. This measures the electrical activity of your heart. Other tests include may include:

  • an electrocardiogram (ECG) while you're exercising on a treadmill
  • a Holter monitor test, where you'll wear an ECG device over at least 24 hours to track your heart's rhythm
  • an electrophysiology study
  • an implantable loop recorder

Treatment of atrial tachycardia is required if you're experiencing unpleasant symptoms or if a permanently increased heart rate is putting your heart at risk and increasing your risk of stroke. Your consultant will discuss your symptoms and treatment options to determine the best approach for you. In some cases, they may recommend treatment with medication or catheter ablation.

Our Atrial tachycardia locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Cardiac Clinic

The Cardiac Clinic

London Bridge Hospital SE1 2PR London
London Bridge Hospital

London Bridge Hospital

27 Tooley Street SE1 2PR London

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.