• Vol. 28 No. 6, 871–874
  • 15 November 1999

Incessant Ectopic Atrial Tachycardia and Tachycardia-related Cardiomyopathy: Therapeutic Options and Potential for Cure



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Incessant ectopic atrial tachycardia (IEAT) is a rare cause of cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is reversible by curative ablation using surgery or radiofrequency current. We report our experience with 5 patients with IEAT. Three patients presented with palpitations and were diagnosed to have paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (2 patients) and atrial flutter with 1:1 conduction (1 patient), but 2 presented insidiously with congestive cardiac failure. All the initial echocardiograms showed left ventricular dysfunction. The patients underwent electrophysiological studies which confirmed the diagnosis of IEAT. The first patient had surgical cryoablation and the other patients had successful radiofrequency catheter ablation. Follow-up for 2 to 7 years has shown no recurrences. All patients had significant improvement in left ventricular function on echocardiography. In conclusion, curative ablation by surgery or radiofrequency current is safe and effective. Because of its low morbidity, radiofrequency catheter ablation should be the treatment of choice for IEAT, especially if complicated by tachycardia-related cardiomyopathy.

Incessant ectopic atria tachycardia (IEAT) is a rare and insidious arrhythmia which is frequently misdiagnosed and if untreated, leads to ‘exhaustion’ of the myocardium and result in tachycardia-related cardiomyopathy. Early strategies to manage this problem such as pharmacological therapy to either block the atrioventricular node or suppress the ectopic focus and ablation of the atrioventricular node to isolate the atrium electrically followed by ventricular pacing, were all met with partial success.

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