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Fetal Tachycardia: symptoms, causes, treatment

Fetal Tachycardia

Author:- Mr. Ritesh Sharma

While tachycardia in humans is a type of arrhythmia that elicits strong expressions such as chest flutter and heart palpitations, there is a tachycardia in the developing baby that often goes unnoticed. This tachycardia is termed Fetal Tachycardia. As it is clear from the name, developing babies, i.e., fetuses, are affected by this tachycardia. Although fetal tachycardia is normally temporary and harmless, it may require medical attention in some cases.

Therefore, it is important to detect it early to enable timely treatment. The study of Fetal Tachycardia, its types, symptoms, causes, and treatment is very intricate. One must fully comprehend the meaning of this type of arrhythmia to cure it timely. Let’s take a deep dive into Fetal tachycardia and discuss all of its aspects in an elaborate manner.

What is Fetal Tachycardia and its types?

In a nutshell, Fetal Tachycardia is the abnormally high heart rate of a fetus, i.e., a developing baby during pregnancy. The normal fetal heart rate varies according to the gestational age. However, in accordance with various studies conducted by different doctors, the normal heart rate range for a fetus is between 120 to 160 beats per minute.

Considering this, fetal tachycardia is the heart rate of a fetus consistently above 160 beats per minute which causes heart palpitations in baby. However, according to various doctors, this condition of arrhythmia arises when the heart rate is constantly above 180 beats per minute. The diagnosis this tachycardia is done in two conditions:

  • If the heart rate of the developing baby stays above 160 BPM for a prolonged period.
  • If the heart rate of the developing baby goes above 160 BPM sometimes and showcases an abnormal ecg.

Types of Fetal Tachycardia

This arrhythmia can manifest in several types during pregnancy. However, there are some common types of this arrhythmia found in pregnant women. The following is a list of all these types of arrhythmias.

    1. Supraventricular Tachycardia:
      Atrial Flutter: In this type of arrhythmia, there are rapid contractions of atria causing the heart rate of the fetus to elevate.
      Atrial Tachycardia: This arrhythmia causes rapid heart rate originating from the atrial region.
  • Ventricular Tachycardia:
    Fetal Ventricular Tachycardia: In this rapid contractions originate in the ventricles of the heart.
  • Atrial Fibrillation:
    In atrial fibrillation, there is a rapid and irregular heart rate due to chaotic electrical signals originating from the atria.
  • Sinus Tachycardia:
    In Sinus Tachycardia, the heart rate of the developing baby is above 180 beats per minute but lower than 200 beats per minute. This arrhythmia doesn’t cause any harm to the heart.
  • Supraventricular Tachycardia with 1:1 Atrioventricular Conduction:
    This type of arrhythmia causes rapid heartbeats with one-to-one conduction between the atria and ventricles.
  • Fetal Atrial Ectopic Tachycardia:
    In this type of  tachycardia, abnormal electrical signals originate outside of the sinoatrial node, which leads to a fast heart rate.
  • Atrioventricular Reentrant Tachycardia (AVRT):
    This arrhythmia occurs due to an electric pathway between the atria and the ventricles.

Symptoms of Fetal Tachycardia

The symptoms of fetal tachycardia are not typically experienced by the mother physically during pregnancy. It is instead diagnosed by healthcare professionals during routine check-ups. The symptoms of fetal tachycardia are broadly classified into medical conditions and maternal symptoms. However, there are some vague symptoms that the mother might experience if her baby is affected by this.

  1. Maternal Symptoms:
    If the fetal tachycardia in the developing baby is significant then the mother might experience symptoms of normal tachycardia. In this, the heart of the mother might occasionally flutter and start inexplicably racing. Apart from this, the mother might also experience unexplained fatigue where she feels more tired than usual.
  2. Medical conditions:
    Some medical conditions such as fever and dehydration can also indicate the arrhythmia belonging to this arrhythmia classification.

Fetal Tachycardia causes

The fetal tachycardia causes are varied and can manifest in different forms. Understanding these causes is important for the timely care of both the mother and the developing baby. Fetal Tachycardia is primarily caused by fever in mother, infections, genetic factors and fetal distress. The following is a list of all the causes of this arrhythmia:

  • Fever in Mother:
    The elevated body temperature of the mother can lead to an increase in the heart rate of the fetus causing this heart disease.
  • Dehydration:
    An inadequate intake of water can impact the amniotic fluid levels and cause the developing baby the cardiac arrhythmia.
  • Infections:
    Certain infections in both the mother and the developing baby can cause the abnormally increased heart rate of the fetus.
  • Medical Conditions in Mother:
    If the mother has thyroid, it can adversely affect the developing baby and consequently causes this disease.
    If the mother is diabetic and the medical condition is not properly controlled, it can lead to this heart abnormality.
  • Medications:
    Some medications that the mother takes can cross the placenta and impact the heart rate of the developing baby.
  • Fetal Anemia:
    A reduction in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the fetus can result in an elevated heart rate. This can be caused due to Rh incompatibility or other forms of anemia.
  • Fetal Arrhythmias:
    The fetus’ heart’s electrical system’s abnormality can cause tachycardia. These arrhythmias include medical conditions like supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), atrial flutter, or atrial tachycardia.
  • Structural Heart Abnormalities:
    Some congenital heart defects in the developing baby can lead to this arrhythmia .
  • Genetic Factors:
    A few genetic factors can substantially contribute to fetal tachycardia.
  • Fetal Distress:
    Any condition that leads to stress in the fetus, for example, a reduced oxygen supply can be associated with fetal tachycardia.

Diagnosing Fetal Tachycardia

The process of diagnosing this diseases is rather intricate. Various medical tests and diagnoses diagnose the condition and the underlying issues. The following are the methods for diagnosis of this arrhythmia

    1. Routine Prenatal Monitoring:
      In routine prenatal monitoring, the healthcare professional monitors the heart rate of the fetus and lets the parents know if its heart rate is elevated.
    2. Detailed Ultrasound Examination:
      The detailed ultrasound examination assesses fetal anatomy, growth, and amniotic fluid levels. Through this structural abnormalities are identified that contribute to the concerned arrhythmia condition.
    3. Fetal Echocardiography:
      In necessary conditions, fetal echocardiography is performed to provide the details about the fetus’ heart structure and function, which is capable of identifying fetal tachycardia.
    4. Blood Tests:
      Certain blood tests are done on the mother to identify infections, diabetes, thyroid, and other conditions that could be contributing to fetal tachycardia.

        Fetal Tachycardia Treatment options

        While in the normal scenario, this arrhythmia is considered harmless and requires no particular treatment. However, if the underlying cause is too severe then some treatment options might be opted by the healthcare professional. The treatment of fetal tachycardia depends on the severity of the condition. It ranges from Remedies for Maternal Health Issues to fetal blood transfusion. 

         The following are the potential treatment options for the medical conditions:

          • Remedies for Maternal Health Issues:
            If the fetal tachycardia is due to maternal health issues like fever and dehydration then it must be accordingly addressed. For this, taking antipyretic medications to reduce fever and ensuring adequate maternal hydration are common approaches.
          • Taking Care of Infections:
            If some infection has caused the medical condition, the healthcare professional might prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medications to cure it.
          • Medication Therapy:
            If the arrhythmia is due to arrhythmia then the doctor might prescribe anti-arrhythmic medications. Moreover, for the remedy of the conditions, medicines like digoxin or antiarrhythmic drugs like amiodarone might also be prescribed.
          • Fetal Blood Transfusion:
            If the arrhythmia is due to fetal anemia, the fetal blood transfusion (intrauterine transfusion) is performed to improve the oxygen-carrying capacity of the fetus.
          • In Utero Cardioversion:
            In severe cases of fetal tachycardia, processes like in utero cardioversion are performed. In this process, controlled electrical impulses are delivered to the fetal heart to restore a normal rhythm.
          • Timing of Delivery and Planning:
            In case of this heart disease being too severe to be controlled, the healthcare professional opts for early delivery of the baby.

            Importance of Timely Intervention

            Timely intervention is important in the case of fetal tachycardia to prevent the underlying issues from worsening. Therefore, the mother must get routine check-ups done on time and act promptly if any issues are found. If the developing baby is found to have fetal tachycardia, the treatment plan will be in accordance with the underlying issue, and decisions will be made by the healthcare professional considering all the risk factors, so that both mother and baby are safe during medical intervention.

            You must wonder, Is fetal tachycardia dangerous? Always keep in mind that fetal tachycardia is often harmless and normally occurs in developing babies. However, its underlying causes can potentially get severe, so if your fetus is found to have this medical condition, you must act promptly and prevent any further harm.

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