Junctional ectopic tachycardia

What is Junctional Ectopic Tachycardia?

Junctional ectopic tachycardia (JET) is a type of fast heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia). JET usually occurs in children, but can also sometimes affect adults. The rhythm is generated from within the conduction system of the heart. This system normally transmits electrical signals that tell the heart when to contract, and allow the heart to beat normally. The electrical signals in JET originate in the wrong part of the conduction system, and cause the heart rate to become dangerously fast.

Causes of Junctional Ectopic Tachycardia

The exact cause of JET is unknown, although it is more common in people with underlying heart disease or a congenital defect. Some things that may cause or trigger JET include:

  • Viral infections
  • Illness
  • Anemia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Medications
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Surgery, particularly cardiac catheterizations

Symptoms of Junctional Ectopic Tachycardia

Common signs and symptoms of JET may include:

  • A fast heart rate (more than 140 beats per minute)
  • Lightheadedness or vertigo
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting or near-fainting (syncope)
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chest pain or tightness of the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations (an uncomfortable awareness of the heart beat)

Treatment for Junctional Ectopic Tachycardia

Treatment for JET includes medications, such as beta-blockers that slow down the heart rate, or an antiarrhythmic to normalize the electrical signals within the heart. In some cases, a pacemaker may be necessary. In extreme cases, other cardiac therapies, such as defibrillation or a cardiac ablation may be needed to restore normal heart rhythm.