Adenosine for Fast Heart Rates
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How It Works
Adenosine reduces the normal flow of the electrical impulses through theatrioventricular (AV) node of the heart.
Why It Is Used
Adenosine is used in the hospital to try to restore a normal heart rate and rhythm when you are having an episode of supraventricular tachycardia .
Adenosine is always given by a doctor while you are hooked up to a heart monitor. It is given through a vein (intravenous, or IV). Adenosine works very quickly and lasts only a short period of time (less than 1 minute).
Adenosine may be used to diagnose tachycardia or to help find the location of the fast heart rate.
How Well It Works
Adenosine can slow or stop a rapid heart rate if the problem is caused by an abnormal electrical pathway in the heart. 1 Adenosine will not work if the fast heart rate has a different cause. Adenosine may only slow your heart rate for a short time if you also have atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter.
Adenosine is given in a hospital. Your doctor will watch you closely for any side effects.
Possible side effects include:
- Skin flushing in the face.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain or pressure.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Adenosine is a quick-acting, short-term therapy intended to convert the fast heart rhythm of a supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) back to a normal rate.
- Drugs for cardiac arrhythmias (2007). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 5(58): 51–58.
Last Revised: October 15, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC – Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP – Family Medicine & John M. Miller, MD, FACC – Cardiology, Electrophysiology