Atrial tachycardia

A form of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)

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

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

  • What are the symptoms of atrial tachycardia? icon plus

    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.

  • How is atrial tachycardia diagnosed? icon plus

    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
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    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.

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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.
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