WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Atrial tachycardia (AT) is a condition that causes your heart to beat 100 to 300 times each minute. A normal heart rate at rest is 60 to 80 beats each minute. AT develops because of problems with your heart's electrical system. Your atria (top chambers) may send electrical signals that increase your heart rate, or the pathway of the electrical signal may be blocked. Your heart keeps sending signals to try to get past the block.
- Antiarrhythmias: These help slow your heartbeat and make it more normal.
- Beta blockers: These help keep your heartbeat in a regular rhythm.
- Calcium channel blockers: These help slow your heartbeat.
- Blood thinners: These help prevent blood clots. Clots can lead to stroke, heart attack, and death. Aspirin is a type of blood thinner. You may need to take an aspirin each day to help prevent blood clots. Do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead. Do not take more or less aspirin than caregivers say to take. If you are on other blood thinner medicine, ask your primary healthcare provider before you take aspirin for any reason.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
You may need more blood tests to check the levels of certain medicines in your blood. You may need another ECG to check your heart rhythm. If you had ablation therapy, you may need a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE). A TEE is a type of ultrasound that shows pictures of the size and shape of your heart. If you have a pacemaker, you will need your pacemaker checked to make sure it is working properly. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Alcohol and caffeine increase your risk for AT and for palpitations (fast, forceful heartbeats).
- Do not smoke or use drugs: Drugs such as meth, and the nicotine in cigarettes can make your heartbeat faster. Talk to your primary healthcare provider if you smoke or use illegal drugs and need help to stop.
- Ask about sports: You may have to limit or stop playing sports while your AT is treated. Ask your primary healthcare provider if it is safe for you to play sports.
- Prevent pregnancy: During pregnancy and childbirth, the mother's heart works harder than usual. Talk with your primary healthcare provider about safe ways to prevent pregnancy. If you do get pregnant, make sure your primary healthcare provider knows you have AT. Your medicines to treat AT may need to be changed while you are pregnant. Some medicines can lead to health problems for you and your unborn baby.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You are more tired than usual.
- You are urinating more often than usual.
- You have a fever.
- You had cardiac ablation and have swelling, redness, or pain where the wire was put in.
- You have new or increased heart palpitations, or your heart is skipping beats.
- You see blood in your urine or bowel movements.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have pain, pressure, or fullness in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or returns.
- You have pain or discomfort in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm.
- You have an upset stomach.
- You have a sudden cold sweat.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and are short of breath. You have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You cough up blood.
- You have a painful red lump in your arm or leg.
- You have weakness or numbness in your arm, leg, or face.
- You are confused or have problems speaking or understanding speech.
- You have a severe headache or feel dizzy.
- You have vision changes or loss of vision.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.