What Is Multifocal Atrial
If you have
multifocal atrial tachycardia (MAT), your heart beats much faster than normal.
This happens when the upper chambers of your heart send too many electrical
signals to the lower chambers.
For an adult, a
heart rate of 60 to 100 heartbeats per minute is normal. If you have MAT, your
heart rate can be anywhere between 100 to 250 beats per minute.
MAT is rare in
infants and children. They normally have higher heart rates than adults — 100
to 130 beats per minute. When an infant or child has MAT, their heart rate will
be 111 to 253 beats per minute.
According to a
study in The Journal of Emergency Medicine, MAT isn’t common. It’s most
frequently seen in people with severe cardiopulmonary (heart-lung) illness.
What Are the Symptoms of
Many people see
no signs of MAT. If you do experience symptoms, it’s likely that they’ll come
and go. The most common symptoms of MAT are rapid pulse and fainting.
pulse rate can occur while you’re active or at rest. It’s usually accompanied
by tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, and often lightheadedness or
If you have MAT,
you should be wary of fainting. It can be caused by shortness of breath that
persists for some time.
The severity of
these symptoms will vary considerably, depending on your age and general
health. They tend to be worse in individuals whose pulse rate is most rapid.
Symptoms in Infants
When MAT occurs
in infants, it may cause wheezing and weight loss.
What Are the Causes of MAT?
several different areas of your heart to emit electrical signals
simultaneously. This results in a much faster heart rate — anywhere between 100
and 250 beats per minute.
MAT most commonly
affects people over the age of 50. It’s also found in people suffering from
conditions that reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood. These include:
You may also be
at an increased risk of MAT if you have:
- coronary heart disease
- sepsis: a severe inflammatory
response to bacteria or other germs
within the last six weeks
on the medication theophylline, a drug used to treat breathing disorders
How Is MAT Diagnosed?
Your doctor may
suspect you’re suffering from MAT if your heartbeat is between 100 and 250
beats per minute, your blood pressure is low to normal, and you have signs of
poor circulation. If this is the case, your doctor may order the following
an electrocardiogram that monitors and records heartbeat activity
study (EPS): a minimally invasive procedure performed to monitor the heart’s
Your doctor may
also recommend that your heart be monitored to record the rate of your
heartbeats. Monitoring can be done in several ways:
monitor: This monitor is usually worn for 24 to 48 hours during normal activity.
loop monitor: This is a long-term monitor that allows you to record heart
activity as symptoms arise.
monitoring: If you are in hospital, your heart activity will be monitored 24
hours a day.
What Are the Treatments for
Your doctor will
first treat the underlying cause of your MAT. That can include hypoxia, or inadequate
oxygen, congestive heart failure, and theophylline toxicity. You may receive
therapies to improve your blood oxygen levels. If the problem is theophylline
toxicity, your doctor will stop that medication. Magnesium and potassium may be
given intravenously to treat MAT. Your doctor may also prescribe medications
like certain beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers that have proved
effective in treating MAT.
uncontrollable MAT may benefit from atrioventricular ablation. This involves
the surgical removal of the tissue that sends the signals to beat and the
permanent implantation of a pacemaker.
What Is the Long-Term
Outlook for MAT?
The symptoms of
MAT can be managed as long as the condition causing the rapid heart rate is
However, a number
of long-term complications are linked to MAT. These conditions may develop over
time if the condition isn’t treated or if you’re suffering from additional
heart conditions. Complications may include:
reduction in your heart’s pumping action
failure: when your heart is unable to pump blood through your body
weakening or changing of your heart muscle