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Disease Profile

Chaotic atrial tachycardia

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset






Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable



Heart Diseases


The following summary is from Orphanet, a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs.

Orpha Number: 3282

Multifocal atrial tachycardia is a rare supraventricular arrhythmia in neonates and young infants that is characterized by multiple P waves with varying P wave morphology and is usually asymptomatic.

It is a very rare condition occurring in around 1 per 150,000 live births.

Clinical description
'The disease mainly affects newborn infants (or those younger than 6 months of age) with a normal heart and no other underlying illness. Most infants are asymptomatic but some may show shortness of breath or respiratory distress. Less often, the disorder may occur in children with heart malformations (such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, tetralogy of Fallot, or atrioventricular canal defect; see these terms) or in those having recently undergone an open-heart surgery. Very rarely, multifocal atrial tachycardia can be associated with other clinical features and be part of a syndrome, such as in Costello syndrome where it is associated with growth retardation, coarse facies, intellectual disability, and skin anomalies (see this term).'

The etiology is unknown.

Diagnostic methods
Diagnosis is made by surface electrocardiogram: atrial activity is polymorphic (at least 3 different morphologies of P waves with a discrete isoelectric baseline, and variable PP, RR, and PR intervals), rapid (atrial rates can increase up to 400 beats per minute), and irregular. Atrioventricular conduction is variable so that some P waves are not conducted. Rate-related QRS widening (aberrancy) is sometimes seen.

Differential diagnosis
Differential diagnosis includes most other types of tachycardia (e.g. nonsustained ventricular tachycardia, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)).

Management and treatment
If the ventricular rate is relatively normal and the infant is asymptomatic with normal heart function, no treatment may be necessary. Cardioversion is unsuccessful due to the fact that the arrhythmia is restarting all the time. A beta-blocker is probably the drug of choice, with an occasional patient with poor ventricular function needing treatment with amiodarone.

The natural history of multifocal atrial tachycardia is spontaneous resolution within weeks or months. In those who require drug treatment, medication can be withdrawn after that time. The long term outlook is good, with no late recurrence.

Visit the Orphanet disease page for more resources.

Learn more

These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

In-Depth Information

  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.