Cardiology

Atrioventricular Reentrant Tachycardia

AVRT VideoThis is a heart rhythm problem where the heart rate can become abnormally fast — a type of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). The condition is related to a “short circuit” in the electrical wiring of the heart; there is an abnormal electrical connection between the atria and the ventricles (heart chambers).

Episodes of fast heart rates tend to be brief, usually minutes in duration, but can be longer.  AVRT can occur in patients of all ages. It is generally not dangerous (this will not cause a cardiac arrest), but certainly can be associated with very bothersome symptoms. AVRT is not necessarily associated with other heart problems.

Symptoms

  • Palpitations; perception of a fast or forceful heart beat
  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness

Diagnostic Tests

Treatment

  • Vagal maneuvers (bearing down, forceful coughing) can stop episodes of fast heartbeat
  • Medications that slow down the heart rate: beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, etc.
  • Radiofrequency ablation is most often curative. The procedure involves essentially cauterizing inside the heart at the site of the “short circuit”, and is part of an electrophysiologic (EP) study.

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