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What types of arrhythmias are narrow complex tachyarrhythmias?

Tachyarrhythmias are abnormally rapid heart rhythms that can lead to potentially serious health complications, such as heart failure.

A narrow complex tachyarrhythmia refers to a special type of rhythm in which the ventricles are activated faster than normal. The source of the rhythm disturbance can be in any of the many points in the upper part of your heart.

The term “narrow complex” refers to how this arrhythmia is reflected on an electrocardiogram (ECG). A complete heartbeat, including the contraction of your heart muscle (systole) and its relaxation (diastole), is represented on an electrocardiogram as having five distinct waves: P, Q, R, S and T.

A narrow complex tachyarrhythmia is shown on an ECG by the clustering of the Q, R, and S complexes, suggesting that your heart is beating faster than normal.

On the other hand, if the Q, R, and S waves are too far apart, it means there is a delay somewhere in the power grid that is causing your heart to beat, which usually results in an abnormally slow heartbeat (bradycardia).

Narrow complex tachyarrhythmia is a broad term to cover one of many types of arrhythmias in which the heart beats faster than 100 beats per minute and the QRS duration is less than 120 milliseconds.

Most narrow complex tachyarrhythmias are symptomatic, which means you can probably feel your heart racing. A 2020 paper suggests that around one in five people with the disease experience syncope – fainting caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Narrow-complex tachyarrhythmias include conditions that come and go (paroxysmal) and conditions that persist until effectively treated. Some may be mild with no obvious symptoms, while others may be so severe that they interfere with your ability to perform normal daily tasks.

A medical professional can diagnose your condition and develop a treatment plan that may include a combination of medications, implanted devices, and lifestyle changes.

Narrow-complex tachyarrhythmias are generally divided into two categories: those that arise from the tissue in the atria (upper chambers of the heart) and those that arise from the atrioventricular junction – the tissue separating the atria from the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart ). Here are examples that come from the fabric of the auricles:

  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib): Atrial fibrillation is the rapid but unpredictable beating of your atria and the The most common type of arrhythmia.
  • Atrial flutter: Similar to atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter involves the abnormal beating of your atria, but in a more predictable pattern.
  • Inappropriate sinus tachycardia: This type of tachycardia is a poorly understood and rare arrhythmia. It affects approximately 1% of the general population.
  • Intra-arterial reentrant tachycardia: This is a condition often resulting from a Congenital heart defect.
  • Multifocal atrial tachycardia: This type of tachycardia is triggered by ectopic foci, which are abnormal “pacemaker” sites in your heart that interfere with the normal electrical activity that paces your heart’s rhythm.
  • Sino-atrial nodal reentrant tachycardia: It’s a rare a type of narrow-complex tachyarrhythmia caused by circuits emerging from the sinus node – the part of your heart that initiates the electrical activity controlling your heartbeat.
  • Sinus tachycardia: Sinus tachycardia is a problem that occurs when the sinus node sends out electrical impulses faster than normal.

The following are examples of narrow complex tachyarrhythmias originating from the atrioventricular junction:

  • Atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT): This is a tachyarrhythmia that originates in the atrioventricular node, the part of your heart that transmits electrical signals from the atria to the ventricles.
  • Atrioventricular reentrant tachycardia (AVNT): It is a paroxysmal state and one of the most common supraventricular arrhythmias (above the ventricles).
  • Junctional tachycardia: This type of tachycardia begins in the atrioventricular node because the sinus node is injured or otherwise unable to initiate the electrical activity necessary for the heart to contract and rest.

A narrow complex tachyarrhythmia can have several possible origins. Among them are:

The primary means of diagnosing a narrow complex tachyarrhythmia is by electrocardiogram. As long as the arrhythmia is ongoing, an EKG will be able to identify it and show the narrow QRS complex.

Some people with narrow complex tachyarrhythmia or another type of arrhythmia may experience periods when their heart beats normally. In these cases, a doctor may recommend wearing a portable ECG, such as a Holter monitor, to record any abnormal heart rhythms away from a hospital or doctor’s office.

The right treatment for a narrow complex tachyarrhythmia depends on the specific arrhythmia, its severity, and its frequency.

Typical treatments may include:

  • Anti-arrhythmic drugs: These drugs are intended to help maintain a healthy heart rhythm.
  • Cardioversion therapy: This therapy uses an electrical signal delivered from outside your chest to restore a healthy, normal heart rhythm.
  • Catheter ablation: Catheter ablation is a procedure in which a special catheter is guided through a blood vessel to the part of the heart causing the rhythm disturbance to deliver a small electrical impulse, destroying suspicious heart tissue.
  • Implantable devices: Devices such as pacemakers or implantable cardioverter defibrillators use mild electrical impulses to restore or maintain a healthy rhythm.
  • Antihypertensive drug: These drugs help lower blood pressure and can be used to control your heart rate (eg beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers).

The outlook for someone diagnosed with a narrow complex tachyarrhythmia depends on several factors, including the individual’s age and general health, as well as the severity of the arrhythmia and the existence of other heart problems. .

Regardless of the type of arrhythmia you have, it is extremely important that you work closely with a cardiologist. You should keep track of appointments and screenings, as well as stick to your medication regimen and follow the other elements of your treatment plan.

Are narrow complex tachyarrhythmias congenital heart diseases?

In some cases, these heart rhythm disorders may be present at birth. But often they develop as a result of a heart attack or simply due to advanced age.

Following a heart-healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and controlling your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar can reduce your risk of developing an arrhythmia.

Are narrow complex tachyarrhythmias hereditary?

Arrhythmias are common inherited conditions, although your personal medical history may cause an arrhythmia that is not part of your family’s medical history. If you have narrow-complex tachyarrhythmia or another heart condition in your family, it’s especially important to take extra precautions to protect your heart.

Are narrow complex tachyarrhythmias life-threatening?

An abnormally fast heart rate is not, in itself, fatal. However, when your heart stops beating normally and efficiently, blood can pool in your heart and form a blood clot which could travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

Likewise, if the arrhythmia causes your heart to work harder than normal, over time this burden could weaken the heart and lead to heart failure, a life-threatening condition.

You may notice your heart racing, but until you have an EKG confirming the nature of your arrhythmia, you won’t know exactly what condition you have or how to treat it.

It’s important to report any changes you notice in your heart rate to a doctor and treat significant changes as serious health conditions that require proper medical evaluation.