Question Of The Day #2

question of the day
question of the day 2

Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in management for this patient‘s condition?

The patient in this scenario has decompensated into cardiac arrest from Ventricular Tachycardia (Vtach). The patient’s history of heart failure puts him at risk for cardiac arrhythmias. It is important to be suspicious of transient cardiac dysrhythmias for any patients who present to the Emergency Department with syncope and no prodromal symptoms. A lack of prodromal symptoms (i.e., diaphoresis, dizziness, nausea) prior to syncope should raise concern for a possible cardiac etiology of the syncope. Choice A (Synchronized Cardioversion) would be the correct management for patients with Vtach with a pulse or patients with tachyarrhythmias and hemodynamic instability (i.e., hypotension). Choice C (Transcutaneous Pacing) would be the correct management for patients with bradyarrhythmia and hemodynamic instability. If Transcutaneous Pacing is ineffective at increasing the heart rate, and the patient remains hemodynamically unstable, the next step would be Transvenous Pacing. But, our case is pulseless ventricular tachycardia, so there is no indication for transcutaneous pacing. Choice D (Intravenous adrenaline 1 mg) may be helpful in a patient with cardiac arrest with Pulseless Electrical Activity or Asystole, VTach, or VFib, but this is not the best initial action. The ACLS algorithm indicates that all patients with cardiac arrest due to Pulseless Ventricular Tachycardia or Ventricular Fibrillation should receive Asynchronized Cardioversion (Choice B). Asynchronized Cardioversion is also called defibrillation. CPR may be initiated prior to cardioversion if defibrillation pads are not attached to the patient.


Long B, Koyfman A, Anantharaman V, Lim S, Ong MH, Kenneth T, Manning JE. “Chapter 24: Cardiac Resuscitation”. In: Tintinalli JE, Ma O, Yealy DM, Meckler GD, Stapczynski J, Cline DM, Thomas SH. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 9thed. McGraw-Hill.

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #2," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, July 1, 2020,, date accessed: October 1, 2023

Acute Management of Supraventricular Tachycardias

Acute management of SVT

The term “supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)” expresses all kinds of rhythms that meet two criteria: Firstly, the atrial rate must be faster than 100 beats per minute at rest. Secondly, the mechanism must involve tissue from the His bundle or above. Mechanism-wise, atrial fibrillation resembles SVTs. However, supraventricular tachycardia traditionally represents tachycardias apart from ventricular tachycardias (VTs) and atrial fibrillation (1,2).

Supraventricular tachycardias are frequent in the ED!

The SVT prevalence is 2.25 per 1000 persons. Women and adults older than 65 years have a higher risk of developing SVT! SVT-related symptoms include palpitations, fatigue, lightheadedness, chest discomfort, dyspnea, and altered consciousness.

How to manage supraventricular tachycardia?

In clinical practice, SVTs are likely to present as narrow regular complex tachycardias. Concomitant abduction abnormalities may cause SVTs to manifest as wide complex tachycardias or irregular rhythms. However, 80% of wide complex tachycardias are VTs. Most importantly, SVT drugs may be harmful to patients with VTs. Therefore, wide complex tachycardias should be treated as VT until proven otherwise (1,2).

The chart below summarizes acute management of regular narrow complex tachycardias:

Acute Management of Regular Narrow Tachycardias

References and Further Reading

  1. Brugada, J., Katritsis, D. G., Arbelo, E., Arribas, F., Bax, J. J., Blomström-Lundqvist, C., … & Gomez-Doblas, J. J. (2019). 2019 ESC Guidelines for the management of patients with supraventricular tachycardia: the Task Force for the management of patients with supraventricular tachycardia of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). European Heart Journal, 00, 1-66.
  2. Page, R. L., Joglar, J. A., Caldwell, M. A., Calkins, H., Conti, J. B., Deal, B. J., … & Indik, J. H. (2016). 2015 ACC/AHA/HRS guideline for the management of adult patients with supraventricular tachycardia: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. Journal of the American College of Cardiology67(13), e27-e115.