Atrial Tachycardia in Children

Atrial flutter is when the atria (upper chambers of the heart) beat faster than the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart). It is usually a regular heart rhythm caused by abnormal circuits within the electrical system. If left untreated, atrial flutter can lead to increased risk of stroke or decreased heart function. On occasion atrial flutter can lead to a similar more known irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation.

This rhythm also can occur in children with normal heart structure and those with congenital heart disease. Learn more about arrhythmias and congenital heart disease.

Symptoms and Signs

  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations (feeling like your heart is racing, pounding, or fluttering)
  • Fast, steady pulse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Pain, pressure, tightness, or discomfort in your chest
  • Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or fainting.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made through cardiac rhythm testing and can include ECG, Holter monitor, event monitor, exercise stress test, implantable loop recorder, or an electrophysiology study (EPS).

Treatment

Management of atrial flutter is directed at controlling fast heart rates that can lead to symptoms and overall weakening of the heart muscle and avoiding blood clots that can lead to stroke.

A variety of cardiac medications and blood thinners may also be prescribed by your cardiologist. On occasion, a cardioversion (a controlled electrical shock while under sedation) may be necessary to restore a patient's normal rhythm.

In select patients either an electrophysiology study and catheter ablation or surgical ablation can be used to treat the problem to target the sites of the abnormal electrical circuit. Your cardiologist will discuss the treatment options with you.

Lifestyle Changes

Ongoing close management with your cardiologist/electrophysiologist is essential. Depending on rhythm control and medical management, lifestyle changes may be individualized.