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Tachyarrhythmias - Emergency nursing management

CPD Hours



Critical care and emergency nursing
Anatomy and physiology
All Modules
Clinical practice and procedures


Tachyarrhythmias are abnormal, fast heart rhythms that may result from ventricular or supraventricular changes to the electrical conduction system of the heart. They are often well tolerated, but do have the potential to cause unpleasant symptoms, physiological instability, and rapid deterioration. Treatment of these rhythms is dependent on their cause and patient condition, and may range from routine monitoring, with or without the administration of medications to synchronised cardioversion and/or advanced life support.

The following module will outline the identification and early management of tachyarrhythmias. It begins with a review of cardiac electrophysiology and progresses into an overview of common supraventricular and ventricular tachycardias and their ECG features. Participants will study the treatment algorithms of tachyarrhythmias, and the indications for medical and electrical management.

Nurses play an important role in managing tachyarrhythmias. This module is aimed at any nurse working in an acute setting such as emergency or intensive care or in an area of pre-hospital emergency care.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Identify the electrical and mechanical properties of the heart.
  • Describe the cardiac electro-conduction system.
  • Understand the physiological effects of persistent tachycardia.
  • Identify the features of supraventricular vs. ventricular tachycardia.
  • Describe the most common rhythms included in the umbrella term supraventricular tachycardia.
  • Follow treatment algorithms for the appropriate emergency management of tachyarrhythmias.

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