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Types of Supraventricular Tachycardia - Topic Overview

Atrial tachycardia

Atrial tachycardia is a type of fast heart rate caused by rapid electrical signals that begin in the upper chambers of the heart. As a result, the heart can sometimes beat very rapidly.

Multifocal (chaotic) atrial tachycardia

Multifocal (chaotic) atrial tachycardia is an abnormal, rapid rhythm that occurs most commonly in older people who have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and heart failure.

During this rhythm, three or more different areas of the atrium initiate extra heartbeats. It is somewhat similar to having several different kinds of premature atrial contractions (PACs) occurring in the same person. These different areas of electrical activity can be seen on an electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG) and are used as the criteria for diagnosing this arrhythmia. People with this arrhythmia frequently complain of palpitations.

On EKG, multifocal atrial tachycardia may appear similar to atrial fibrillation. But it is a distinct condition. The problem with this rhythm is that it causes a persistently fast heart rate that may be difficult to control. If a lung disease is causing this rhythm problem, treating the lung disease might also control the rhythm problem.

Junctional tachycardia

Junctional tachycardia is a rare fast heart rate that starts in the area between the upper and lower chambers of the heart. This rhythm frequently affects adults who have heart disease and children who have had heart surgery.

Sinus tachycardia

Normal sinus tachycardia.Sinus tachycardia is present when a person's heart rate is over 100 beats per minute. This is normal if there is a clear reason for the fast heart rate, such as exercise, pain, or fever. With sinus tachycardia, the electrical system of the heart is working normally.

Abnormal (inappropriate) sinus tachycardia. Sinus tachycardia (heart rate over 100 beats per minute) is not normal if there is no apparent cause. In this rare condition, the electrical system of the heart is working normally.

People with inappropriate sinus tachycardia typically don't have any heart disease. Inappropriate sinus tachycardia with no heart disease may mean your autonomic nervous system isn't working right.

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