What is the definition of Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia?

Multifocal atrial tachycardia (MAT) is a rapid heart rate. It occurs when too many signals (electrical impulses) are sent from the upper heart (atria) to the lower heart (ventricles).

What are the alternative names for Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia?

Chaotic atrial tachycardia

What are the causes for Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia?

The human heart gives off electrical impulses, or signals, which tell it to beat. Normally, these signals begin in an area of the upper right chamber called the sinoatrial node (sinus node or SA node). This node is considered the heart's "natural pacemaker." It helps control the heartbeat. When the heart detects a signal, it contracts (or beats).

The normal heart rate in adults is about 60 to 100 beats per minute. The normal heart rate is faster in children.

Conduction

In MAT, many locations in the atria fire signals at the same time. Too many signals lead to a rapid heart rate. It most often ranges between 100 to 130 beats per minute or more in adults. The rapid heart rate causes the heart to work too hard and not move blood efficiently. If the heartbeat is very fast, there is less time for the heart chamber to fill with blood between beats. Therefore, not enough blood is pumped to the brain and the rest of the body with each contraction.

MAT is most common in people age 50 and over. It is often seen in people with conditions that lower the amount of oxygen in the blood. These conditions include:

  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung failure
  • Pulmonary embolism

You may be at higher risk for MAT if you have:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Had surgery within the last 6 weeks
  • Overdosed on the drug theophylline
  • Sepsis

When the heart rate is less than 100 beats per minute, the arrhythmia is called "wandering atrial pacemaker."

What are the symptoms for Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia?

Some people may have no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they can include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Sensation of feeling the heart is beating irregularly or too fast (palpitations)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss and failure to thrive in infants

Other symptoms that can occur with this disease:

  • Breathing difficulty when lying down
  • Dizziness

What are the current treatments for Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia?

If you have a condition that can lead to MAT, that condition should be treated first.

Treatment for MAT includes:

  • Improving blood oxygen levels
  • Giving magnesium or potassium through a vein
  • Stopping medicines, such as theophylline, which can increase heart rate
  • Taking medicines to slow the heart rate (if the heart rate is too fast), such as calcium channel blockers (verapamil, diltiazem) or beta-blockers

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia?

MAT can be controlled if the condition that causes the rapid heartbeat is treated and controlled.

What are the possible complications for Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia?

Complications may include:

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Reduced pumping action of the heart

When should I contact a medical professional for Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia?

Call your health care provider if:

  • You have a rapid or irregular heartbeat with other MAT symptoms
  • You have MAT and your symptoms get worse, do not improve with treatment, or you develop new symptoms

How do I prevent Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia?

To reduce the risk of developing MAT, treat the disorders that cause it right away.

Heart
Heart

REFERENCES

Olgin JE, Zipes DP. Supraventricular arrhythmias. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 37.

Zimetbaum P. Supraventricular cardiac arrhythmias. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 58.

There is no recent research available for this condition. Please check back because thousands of new papers are published every week and we strive to find and display the most recent relevant research as soon as it is available.

There are no recent clinical trials available for this condition. Please check back because new trials are being conducted frequently.