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Adenosine for Fast Heart Rates

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
adenosine Adenocard, Adenoscan

How It Works

Adenosine reduces the normal flow of the electrical impulses through the atrioventricular (AV) node of the heart.

Why It Is Used

Adenosine is used in the hospital to try to restore a normal heart rate and rhythm when you are having an episode of supraventricular tachycardia.

Adenosine is always given by a doctor while you are hooked up to a heart monitor. It is given through a vein (intravenous, or IV). Adenosine works very quickly and lasts only a short period of time (less than 1 minute).

Adenosine may be used to diagnose tachycardia or to help find the location of the fast heart rate.

How Well It Works

Adenosine can slow or stop a rapid heart rate if the problem is caused by an abnormal electrical pathway in the heart.1 Adenosine will not work if the fast heart rate has a different cause. Adenosine may only slow your heart rate for a short time if you also have atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter.

Side Effects

Adenosine is given in a hospital. Your doctor will watch you closely for any side effects.

Possible side effects include:

  • Skin flushing in the face.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea.
  • Chest pain or pressure.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Adenosine is a quick-acting, short-term therapy intended to convert the fast heart rhythm of a supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) back to a normal rate.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Drugs for cardiac arrhythmias (2007). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 5(58): 51–58.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer John M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Last Revised August 9, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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