What Is It?
An uncommon and possibly dangerous heart condition is Ectopic Atrial Tachycardia (EAT). This is a risky kind of arrhythmia that occurs when the left ventricular of the heart malfunctions. Arrhythmia is described as a disturbance or change in the normal heart beat. Typically, this can lead to faster than normal heart rates. This can happen when faulty electrical signals are sent to the heart muscles that make the organ contract rapidly.
When electricity passes through the heart at irregular rates, the muscles contract faster than it should. This puts a strain on the organ if symptoms are chronic and may lead to heart failure. In adults, EAT is usually caused by an ailing atrial myocardium that does not respond well to typical antiarrhythmic medication. Ectopic Atrial Tachycardia in children though, may be caused by other factors.
EAT is rare in adults but is the most common type of SVT or incessant supraventricular tachycardia in children. Normally, this condition activates when electrical signals are directed at the sinus node very quickly. In infants, heart rate can increase up to 250 to 300 beats per minute during an attack. Older kids in their teens can have heart rates of 150 to 180 per minute.
The symptoms of Ectopic Atrial Tachycardia in children can include palpitations, shortness of breath, and decreased stamina. Infants with this condition may show irritability, loss of appetite, slower than normal weight gain, and excessive sweating. Adult symptoms may comprise of chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, pounding heart, dizziness and fainting. These symptoms can manifest while the patient is in a relaxed state.
This condition can be diagnosed by a doctor through an ECG test. This is a painless and non-invasive test that monitors the heart’s activity and rhythm for 24 hours. The device looks like an unimposing box that is slightly larger than an iPod. It is attached to a patient’s chest through ECG electrodes. The device can be worn on the waist so that the patient can move about with ease.
The ECG machine can be worn underneath regular clothing outside of the hospital once attached by a medical technician. Activities of the heart such as the heart rate or abnormal murmurs are recorded for the doctor to review later on. The results of the recording will help your physician determine if you indeed have Ectopic Atrial Tachycardia. It is not necessary to remain at your cardiologist’s clinic for the entire procedure. You can even take a bath with it and go to the office while the device records data.
You will just have to return the ECG monitor to your cardiologist or someone at the Cardio department where you had the device attached. Do this in 24 hours or at same time you had the monitor attached to your body. In case you are not able to go to a medical facility within 24 hours, you will have to remove the device yourself after the test period and return it to your cardiologist as soon as possible. Your results will be processed immediately and you can get a diagnosis within a day.
Treatment for Ectopic Atrial Tachycardia can take the form of surgery, therapy, or medication. Children and adults with EAT can be given antiarrhythmic medicines such as beta-blockers or digoxin among others. Medicines will treat the underlying cause and damage done to the sinus. It is also meant to slow down the heart rate to prevent heart disease or failure. In severe cases wherein medication fails to bring about positive results, surgery may be suggestion by the doctor.
It is important to seek treatment for this condition to avoid complications such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, or heart failure. Some of these serious complications can lead to death or permanent disability. Ectopic Atrial Tachycardia can never be taken lightly, especially when it occurs in the elderly, children or infants.