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Multifocal atrial tachycardia


Definition:

Multifocal atrial tachycardia is a rapid heart rate that occurs when too many signals (electrical impulses) are sent from the upper heart (atria) to the lower heart (ventricles).

Alternative Names:
Chaotic atrial tachycardia
Symptoms:

Some people may have no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they can include:

Other symptoms that can occur with this disease:

Signs and tests:

An examination shows a fast irregular heartbeat, usually of 100 to 130 beats per minute. Blood pressure is normal or low. There may be signs of poor circulation.

Tests to diagnose MAT include:

Heart monitors are used to record the rapid heartbeat. These include:

  • 24-hour Holter monitor
  • Portable, long-term loop recorders -- allow you to start recording if symptoms occur
  • If you are in the hospital, your heart rhythm will be monitored 24 hours a day
Treatment:

If you have a condition that can lead to MAT, that condition should be treated first.

Treatment for MAT includes:

  • Improving blood oxygen levels
  • Giving magnesium or potassium through a vein
  • Stopping medications, such as theophylline, which can increase the heart rate
  • Taking medicines to slow the heart rate (if the heart rate is too fast), such as such as calcium channel blockers (verapamil, diltiazem) or beta-blockers
Expectations (prognosis):

MAT can be controlled if the condition that causes the rapid heartbeat is treated and controlled.

Complications:
Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if:

  • You have a rapid or irregular heartbeat with other MAT symptoms
  • You have MAT and your symptoms get worse, do not improve with treatment, or you develop new symptoms
Prevention:

To reduce the risk of developing MAT, promptly treat the disorders that cause it.

References:

Olgin JE, Zipes DP. Specific arrhythmias: diagnosis and treatment. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2011:chap 39.

Zimetbaum P. Cardiac arrhythmia with supraventricular origin. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 64.


Review Date: 6/18/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

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