Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia (PAT) is a potentially life threatening condition characterized by sudden, unpredictable spikes in heart rate. There are no known cures or effective treatment options for the disease. The condition usually manifests itself between the ages of 15 and 35 years old. Approximately one out of every five adults will develop it during their lifetime. The most common symptom of the condition is a rapid heartbeat. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. Patients may experience shortness of breath while standing up from sitting down, weakness on one side of the body or even paralysis. Most patients have no warning signs before they suffer cardiac arrest. A diagnosis of PAT is made when there are three or more of these symptoms:
The cause of the condition remains unknown. However, some studies suggest that it could be due to genetic factors. Some doctors believe that it is caused by a problem with the electrical activity within the heart’s chambers. Others think that it might be related to other conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, smoking and obesity.
These factors may make the condition worse among those that have a genetic disposition.
Some patients report an increase in symptoms after consuming certain foods or drinks. These include alcohol, caffeine, monosodium glutamate, and tobacco.
Other possible risk factors of the condition are listed below:
Most cases of PAT are treated by administering a combination of drugs that maintain a healthy heart rate. The three most commonly used medications are: beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and digoxin. Other drugs that may be used for treatment include disopyramide, diltiazem, flecanide and moricizine. Most patients have to take these drugs throughout their lifetime in order to prevent dangerous heart rhythms from occurring.
A pacemaker may also be implanted within the chest to regulate the heartbeat if medication fails to work effectively.
There are no major known risk factors with the disease.
Sources & references used in this article:
Neural mechanisms of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and paroxysmal atrial tachycardia in ambulatory canines by AY Tan, S Zhou, M Ogawa, J Song, M Chu, H Li… – Circulation, 2008 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Follow-up evaluation of infant paroxysmal atrial tachycardia: transesophageal study. by DW Benson Jr, A Dunnigan, DG Benditt – Circulation, 1987 – Am Heart Assoc
Canine model of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and paroxysmal atrial tachycardia by M Swissa, S Zhou, O Paz… – American Journal …, 2005 – journals.physiology.org
Clinical and electrophysiologic features of fetal and neonatal paroxysmal atrial tachycardia resulting in congestive heart failure by VR Zales, A Dunnigan, DW Benson Jr – The American journal of cardiology, 1988 – Elsevier
Caffeine intoxication: a case of paroxysmal atrial tachycardia by GW Josephson, RJ Stine – Journal of the American College of Emergency …, 1976 – Elsevier