Tachycardia is an abnormally fast heartbeat that originates in the ventricles of the heart. Tachycardias are common cardiac problems in dogs, and atrial paroxysmal tachycardia is a serious cardiac arrhythmia that may lead to fainting. Prolonged ventricular tachycardia tends to deteriorate into ventricular fibrillation, in which the heart flutters rapidly and inefficiently rather than pumping. Signs may include panting, loss of coordination, fainting, and rapid breathing. Ventricular fibrillation results in death within minutes unless a normal heart rhythm is restored. In most cases, ventricular tachycardia is associated with heart disease, but can also result from congenital heart defects.
The condition is treated with anti-arrhythmic drugs. If this approach fails, a normal heartbeat may be restored with cardioversion (an electrical shock to the chest). Recent studies have shown success in treating dogs with atrial paroxysmal tachycardia with digitalis. The drug was evaluated in two clinical cases of dogs. Both adult dogs (Labrador and German Shepherd Dog) were treated with oral digitalis for 7 days. Following treatment, heart rate stabilized, and synchronized atrial and ventricular electrical activity was restored.
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ventricle - a lower chamber of the heart
atrium - an upper chamber of the heart
arrhythmia - irregular heart beat
- Varshney JP, Chaudhuri S. Homeopathy. 2007 Oct;96(4):270-2. Atrial paroxysmal tachycardia in dogs and its management with homeopathic Digitalis--two case reports
- Martin S. Lipsky. American Medical Association Concise Medical Encyclopedia