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Back to Cardiovascular Diseases

Atrial tachycardia

Introduction

Atrial Tachycardia is a heart rhythm driven by pacemaker activity in atrial sites other than the SA node. Automatic atrial tachycardia is typically associated with heart rates ranging from 150-200 beats/minute. The heart rate may display a "warm-up" in which the abnormal rhythm gradually accelerates after initiation. Often atrial tachycardia is associated with prior heart surgery or lung diseases. The rhythm is most often associated with structural heart disease such as coronary artery diseases, myocardial infarction, severe lung disease and drug toxicity. The origin or focus of the abnormal impulses distinguishes two types of atrial tachycardia depending upon whether the origin or focus of the abnormal impulse appears to involve a single (unifocal) site or multiple (multifocal) sites.

Definition

Atrial tachycardia

A series of 3 or more consecutive atrial premature beats occurring at a frequency >100/min; usually due to abnormal focus within the atria and paroxysmal in nature. This type of rhythm includes paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT).

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)

Usually caused by reentry currents within the atria or between ventricles and atria producing high heart rates of 140-250.

Epidemiology

Incidence

Incidence of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia is approximately 1-3 per 1000.

Gender

Prevalence is twice as high in women compared to men, but may occur in either sex, and the prevalence increases with age.

Age

SVT may occur at any age but often occurs in younger people in the absence of heart disease.

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