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Tachycardia is a cardiac arrhythmia in which the heart rate becomes abnormally rapid. The incidence of sustained tachycardia in pregnant women is around 2 - 3 per 1,000. Diagnosis is with echocardiotography (ECG). Exercise ECG can be reasonably carried out during pregnancy provided that exercise is not contraindicated for obstetric reasons. Drug treatment for pregnant women with supraventricular tachycardia should be administered by experienced medical practitioners in an area with equipment available for resuscitation. During the initial assessment of a woman in labour, the fetal heart rate should be auscultated (for a minimum of 1 minute immediately after a contraction). A fetal heart rate above 160 beats/minute (or below 110) should prompt consideration of transfer from midwifery-led to obstetric-led care.

Further reading

Adamson DL, Nelson-Piercy C. (2007) Managing palpitations and arrhythmias during pregnancy. Heart, 93(12):1630-1836 NICE. (2014).

Intrapartum care for healthy women and babies. Clinical guidance 190.

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