Tachycardia Management: Diagnosing and Treating Stable Tachycardia

Learn more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for stable tachycardia from our experts.

Understanding the Basics of Stable Tachycardia

The AHA released revised standards in 2020 concerning the treatment of stable tachycardia in Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS). These guidelines provide healthcare professionals with evidence-based recommendations for the management of patients with stable tachycardia.

Stable tachycardia is defined as a regular, narrow-complex tachycardia with a rate of more than 150 beats per minute in adults. The updated AHA guidelines recommend using a step-by-step approach to managing stable tachycardia, which includes identifying the underlying rhythm, determining the patient’s hemodynamic stability, and deciding on a treatment plan.

RELATED: Understanding Tachycardia with Pulse Algorithm

Patient about to be discharged from the hospital.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Stable Tachycardia

Tachycardia is a condition in which the heart beats faster than normal, typically defined as a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute at rest. When tachycardia is stable, the heart rate is elevated, but the patient’s blood pressure and other vital signs are typically within a normal range. Stable tachycardia can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, anxiety, medications, and underlying medical conditions.

Here are some common signs and symptoms of stable tachycardia:

  1. Rapid heartbeat: The most common symptom of tachycardia is a rapid or racing heartbeat, which may be noticeable even at rest.
  2. Palpitations: Patients with tachycardia may experience palpitations, which are sensations of a racing or pounding heartbeat.
  3. Shortness of breath: Tachycardia can cause shortness of breath, especially during physical activity or exercise.
  4. Fatigue: Patients with tachycardia may feel tired or weak, especially if the condition is chronic.
  5. Dizziness or lightheadedness: Tachycardia can cause a drop in blood pressure, which may result in dizziness or lightheadedness.
  6. Chest pain: In rare cases, tachycardia can cause chest pain or discomfort.
  7. Fainting: In severe cases of tachycardia, patients may experience syncope or fainting.

It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions. Severe symptoms such as chest pain, fainting, or difficulty breathing require immediate medical attention.

Diagnosing Stable Tachycardia – What Are the Tests Used to Identify It?

To tackle stable tachycardia effectively, the initial step is to determine its base rhythm through a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG). The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that healthcare professionals obtain a 12-lead ECG within 10 minutes of the patient’s presentation in order to determine the underlying rhythm and rule out any potentially life-threatening conditions.

Once the underlying rhythm is identified, healthcare professionals should assess the hemodynamic stability of the patient. Hemodynamic stability is determined by assessing the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and symptoms. The AHA recommends using a modified version of the ABCDE approach (Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure) to assess the patient’s hemodynamic stability.

Treatment Options for Managing Stable Tachycardia

After assessing the patient’s hemodynamic stability, healthcare professionals should decide on a treatment plan. The AHA recommends using vagal maneuvers or adenosine as the first-line treatment for stable narrow-complex tachycardia. If vagal maneuvers or adenosine are unsuccessful, healthcare professionals may consider using other medications or electrical cardioversion.

In summary, the updated AHA guidelines provide healthcare professionals with evidence-based recommendations for the management of stable tachycardia in ACLS. By using a step-by-step approach to the management of stable tachycardia, healthcare professionals can ensure that patients receive appropriate and timely treatment. It is important for healthcare professionals to stay up-to-date with the latest guidelines and to use evidence-based practices to ensure the best possible outcomes for their patients

Studying ACLS mnemonics such as H's and T's and SAMPLE will help ACLS providers know how to treat reversible causes in ACLS.

RELATED: What Are the 3 Unstable Tachycardia Rhythms?

Where Can I Learn More About Treating Stable Tachycardia?

Through taking an Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certification course!

Medical ProCerts is an accredited, AHA-compliant ACLS certification provider. Their certification courses are 100% online and can be completed in as little as 3 hours. Registering is easy (no proof of prior education or certification is required), and your certification card AND CME credits will be automatically awarded upon completion of the exam and evaluation.

Find out more about certifying with Medical ProCerts today at www.medicalprocerts.com

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