oa South African Medical Journal - An approach to the patient with a suspected tachycardia in the emergency department : CME

Volume 106, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Patients present to the emergency department with either an ongoing tachycardia or a history suspicious of a tachycardia. Either way, the tachycardia needs to be documented, preferably on a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) for diagnosis and management. If a tachycardia is not documented, a careful history of the palpitations should be taken to see if further monitoring and investigations are required. If a tachycardia is confirmed on an ECG, the clinician needs to classify it according to two variables: (i) regularity of the rhythm; and (ii) QRS width. This will allow a differential diagnosis to be made.

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