Junctional tachycardia is an abnormal heart rhythm. Symptoms may range from mild to severe, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
Junctional tachycardia is a type of abnormal heart rhythm that leads to a temporarily higher heart rate. It’s caused by disruptions in the electrical system of the heart that impact the junctional rhythm.
The heart works through the combined efforts of a pump and an electrical system that help blood move through the heart at a steady rhythm. Normally, your heart beats in a sinus rhythm between roughly
When there are disruptions to the electrical impulses to either the SA or AV, your heart rate may become abnormal, which can lead to a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to serious.
Read on to learn more about junctional tachycardia, what symptoms to expect, and when to seek help.
Junctional tachycardia doesn’t always produce symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they can include:
- syncope, or temporary loss of conscious
- heart palpitations
- pulsating veins
People with heart failure may also notice symptoms like:
- shortness of breath
- swelling (edema) in the legs
And people with conditions like rheumatic fever may notice additional symptoms, including:
- joint pain
- heart murmur
Severe symptoms of junctional tachycardia
Severe shortness of breath, dizziness, or loss of consciousness are serious symptoms. Seek immediate medical care if you experience any of these — especially alongside chest pain.
Types of junctional tachycardia
Here are some of the types of junctional tachycardia based on the speed of your heartbeat:
|Junctional escape rhythm||40 to 60 beats per minute|
|Accelerated junctional rhythm||60 to 100 beats per minute|
|Junctional tachycardia||100 beats per minute or higher|
There are a number of medical conditions, injuries, and even medications that could cause you to develop this abnormal heart rhythm.
Some common medical causes of junctional rhythms include conditions like:
- sick sinus syndrome
- collagen vascular disease
- neuromuscular disorders
- X-linked muscular dystrophy
- carotid sinus hypersensitivity
- sleep apnea
- intracranial hypertension
- anorexia nervosa
- Lyme disease
- rheumatic fever
- ischemic heart disease
- heart attack
- coronary artery disease
- congenital heart disease
- inherited channelopathy
Several types of medications can also trigger a junctional rhythm, including:
- radiation therapy
- clonidine (Kapvay)
- reserpine (Serpasil)
- adenosine (Adenocard, Adenoscan)
- cimetidine (Tagamet)
- class I to IV antiarrhythmics
- lithium (Priadel, Camcolit, Liskonium, Li-Liquid)
- calcium channel blockers
- digoxin (Lanoxin)
- ivabradine (Corlanor)
- isoproterenol (Isoprenaline Macure)
Injuries and activities
Chest trauma and any injuries that require mechanical ventilation using suctioning movements deep in your throat can trigger junctional tachycardia. This form of suctioning, known as endotracheal suctioning, can trigger vasovagal stimulation. The vagus nerve is the longest of your 12 cranial nerves and is associated with the function of many other organs, too.
Junctional tachycardia can be diagnosed through the use of an electrocardiogram, which helps healthcare professionals identify your heart rhythm. This test may be done by a primary care doctor, in an emergency department, or during a visit with a cardiologist.
If your condition is stable, the healthcare professional will explore whether you have any other associated heart conditions and perform other assessments, such as blood testing or an echocardiogram.
If your condition is unstable, meaning that you’re in immediate danger of serious complications or consequences of junctional tachycardia, your treatment will likely begin right away.
In many cases, treatment for a junctional rhythm depends on the cause. Junctional rhythms that have lower rates or that produce no symptoms may not be treated at all since they may not impact your overall health. But a primary care doctor or cardiologist may suggest monitoring your symptoms to watch for any changes.
Cardiac arrhythmias shouldn’t be treated with home remedies or over-the-counter medications. If your abnormal heart rhythm is caused by coronary artery disease or heart failure, maintaining your overall health and keeping up a treatment regimen and heart-healthy lifestyle can help. But this isn’t a cure on its own or a long-term solution for the condition. Instead, you’ll likely need to also take prescription medication.
If a medication or substance is causing the problem, a healthcare professional may request a change to your medication or suggest you stop using substances like opioids or cannabinoids.
High heart rates may be treated with medications or devices, like pacemakers, that can help control the rate and rhythm of your heart.
In some people, especially in children, junctional tachycardia can also be treated with percutaneous radiofrequency ablation. This can be used to help reset your heart rhythm to a healthy rate.
There are many types of tachycardia, also sometimes just called a high heart rate. Junctional tachycardia is one of these, but it’s specifically caused by the location where the electrical impulse of the heart originates for each beat.
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is another form of tachycardia that can appear with similar symptoms to junctional tachycardia, including dizziness and palpitations. These two conditions can also share similar causes, including coronary artery disease and other cardiac conditions.
Talk with a healthcare professional if you take your pulse and notice a heart rate that’s higher than normal for you or if you experience symptoms that you think might be related to a heart problem.
Junctional tachycardia is the fastest type of junctional rhythm. These are heart rhythms that begin with an electrical impulse from the wrong area of the heart.
Talk with a healthcare professional if:
- you’ve been diagnosed with junctional tachycardia
- you’re experiencing symptoms that make you concerned that you may have this condition
And be careful trying home remedies or relying on over-the-counter medications to treat abnormal heart rhythms without consulting your doctor or cardiologist first.