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Individualized Treatments

How you are treated for tachycardia will depend on:

  • Your symptoms
  • How long you've had your symptoms
  • Type of tachycardia you have
  • Where in the heart your tachycardia is originating from
  • If you have other heart problems

You may:

  • Be put on medications to control your heart rate.
  • Need a procedure aimed at destroying areas of the heart that are causing your arrhythmia or one that seeks to reset your heart's natural rhythm.
  • Have a defibrillator implanted.


Control Your Heart Rate

In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medications to control your problem. These include:

  • Anti-arrhythmic medications to slow the conduction of your heart's electrical signals or slow the time it takes your heart to recharge after each beat.
  • Calcium channel blockers or beta blockers to slow nerve impulses in the heart muscle to reduce its workload.
  • Blood thinners may also be prescribed to reduce the risk that your heart's arrhythmia may cause a blood clot.

Electrical Cardioversion

Brief, Safe, Routine Outpatient Procedure

This is a brief, safe and routine procedure in which an electrical shock is delivered to your heart through paddles or patches placed on your chest.

Prior to the procedure, you will be given a small amount of anesthesia through an IV line, putting you to sleep briefly so you don't feel the shock.

The electrical current stops your heart's electrical activity momentarily. When it begins again, the AF should be gone and your heart's normal rhythm restored.

At the CardioVascular Institute, this is performed on an outpatient basis.

Catheter Ablation

Over 90 Percent Success Rate

Catheter ablation is a catheter-based procedure designed to destroy the area of the heart causing the tachycardia.

In this procedure your doctor inserts long wires, called catheters, into veins in your groin and into your heart. Once the origin of the arrhythmia is found, this area is then cauterized (burned), using radio waves. The cauterization destroys the tissue around the area identified so that abnormal electrical activity is prevented from causing the tachycardia.

The procedure itself takes from two to four hours and may require an overnight stay in the hospital for monitoring the results. You can usually return to work in two to three days after the procedure.

The procedure has a success rate of over 90 percent depending on the type of arrhythmia causing your problem.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

Initiates Electrical Signal When Irregular Rhythm Detected

Similar to a pacemaker, ICDs are devices that monitor the heart constantly, but only initiate an electrical signal when it detects a prespecified rhythmic abnormality that is dangerous.

ICDs can function as pacemakers for slow heart rates, but may also deliver high-energy electrical therapy for certain fast heart rates, called defibrillation shocks.

Surgically implanted like a pacemaker, an ICD is a miniature (but internal) version of the shock paddles used by paramedics and emergency room doctors.

Contact Information

Cardiovascular Medicine
Division of the CardioVascular Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215