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Supraventricular & Ventricular Tachycardia

Cardiac arrhythmia is a general term for an abnormal heartbeat that can be too fast, too slow, irregular, or a combination of these aspects. Tachycardias are cardiac arrhythmias that have a regular rhythm but are too fast, exceeding 100 beats per minute.

Accurate diagnosis and treatment are necessary to effectively resolve tachycardia and return our patients to their productive lives. At Pacific Rim Electrophysiology based in Los Angeles, Dr. Koonlawee Nademanee specializes in leading-edge diagnosis and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias.

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For more information, request a consultation or call the office of Pacific Rim Electrophysiology at (310) 672-9999. Recognized as international leaders in cardiac arrhythmia treatment and research, we serve patients from the Los Angeles area, as well as across the country and around the world.

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An innovator of advanced cardiac arrhythmia treatments that have attracted the attention of specialists and patients worldwide.

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A board-certified cardiac electrophysiologist and a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society.

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Understanding Tachycardia

Tachycardia can be categorized by the location from which it originates in the heart. Two types of tachycardia we commonly treat are:

  • Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) begins in the upper portion of the heart, usually the atria
  • Ventricular tachycardia (VT) begins in the heart's lower chambers, the ventricles

Abnormal electrical pulses in the atria or ventricles disrupt the normal firing of the sinoatrial (SA) node, the natural pacemaker of the heart, causing the heart to beat rapidly. The rapid heartbeat does not allow enough time for the heart to fill before it contracts, limiting blood flow to the rest of the body.

Because VTs occur in the large pumping chambers of the heart, they make the heart extremely inefficient and are more serious than SVTs. The symptoms of VTs are usually more severe, and have a much greater tendency to be fatal. While SVTs are not usually life-threatening, they can cause both emotional and physical problems. It is cause for concern if a patient experiences frequent SVTs or if the episodes are lengthy.

Symptoms

While some tachycardia can go unnoticed, most people experience uncomfortable symptoms, which can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations (pounding sensation of the heart )
  • Syncope (fainting or passing out)
  • Cardiac arrest

Causes of Tachycardia

VT can be associated with various types of heart disease, such as a prior heart attack, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, valvular heart disease, or myocarditis. Some forms of VT are caused by genetic abnormalities, abnormal blood chemistry, or certain medications. SVT is often associated with anxiety and fatigue, as well as excessive caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine use. Occasionally, it is associated with heart attack and mitral valve disease. We can perform an electrophysiology study to identify the origination site of the SVT.

Treatment

At Pacific Rim Electrophysiology, we specialize in catheter ablation of cardiac arrhythmia. We use advanced diagnostic equipment to determine the focus or position within the heart that is responsible for the tachycardia. This area is targeted and the associated heart cells are destroyed by delivering energy using a thin, flexible catheter inserted into the artery in the groin or leg without surgery.

High-risk patients who have experienced tachycardia often benefit from the protection of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). The ICD monitors the heart and detects an unsafe rise in heart rate. In this instance, the ICD delivers an intense electrical pulse to restore the heart's normal rhythm and prevent sudden cardiac death. Medication (anti-arrhythmic drugs) may also be used to treat tachycardia, alone or in conjunction with an ICD.

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