UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Pediatric Arrhythmias - atrial fibrillation

Keywords: pediatric atrial fibrillation, pediatric arrhythmias (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/23/2009 by Don Van Wie, DO (Updated: 9/24/2021)
Click here to contact Don Van Wie, DO

The most common arrhythmias in children presenting to the ED are:

  • Sinus tachycardia (50%)
  • SVT (13%)
  • Bradycardia (6%)
  • Atrial Fibrillation (4.6%)

Atrial fibrillation in children is irregularly irregular with disorganized atrial activity with atrial rates ranging from 350-600 BPM. 

Children at increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation include those with underlying structural heart defects and hyperthyroidism.

Hemodynamically stable children have several treatment options including digoxin, amiodarone, propranolol, esmolol, or procainamide for ventricular rate control.

Hemodynamically unstable children need immediate synchronized cardioversion with 0.5 - 1 J/kg.  (don't forget light sedation.)

References:

Sacchetti A, Moyer V, Baricella R, et al. Primary cardiac arrhythmias in children. Pediatr Emerg Care 1999;15:95-98

Doniger S. Pediatric Dysrhythmias. Pediatric Emergency Medicine Reports. Sept 2008. Vol 13, No 9 (This was edited by a UMMS Combined EM/PEDS graduated Dr. Jim Colletti who is Associate Residency Director, Emergency Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN.)

References

Sacchetti A, Moyer V, Baricella R, et al. Primary cardiac arrhythmias in children. Pediatr Emerg Care 1999;15:95-98

Doniger S. Pediatric Dysrhythmias. Pediatric Emergency Medicine Reports. Sept 2008. Vol 13, No 9 (This was edited by a UMMS Combined EM/PEDS graduated Dr. Jim Colletti who is Associate Residency Director, Emergency Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN.)