To the Editor:
Because it emphasized a bedside approach rather than millisecond dissections of electronic catheter tracings, I found Drs. Zimetbaum and Josephson’s discussion of symptoms and circumstances associated with palpitations refreshing (1). They did not mention, however, the tachycardia-polyuria syndrome.
As described in the 1960s, polyuria occurs in approximately half of patients with paroxysmal supraventricular arrhythmias faster than 110 beats per minute lasting for 20 or more minutes when left ventricular failure and stenotic valvular lesions are absent (2,3). Why the syndrome is so underreported to physicians is unclear. Diuresis typically begins 20 to 60 minutes after the onset of the arrhythmia, is most intense in the first 1 to 2 hours, and may last as long as 8 hours if the arrhythmia lasts that long (2,3,4). It is unusual for polyuria to occur before the palpitation or with ventricular arrhythmias.
The syndrome’s physiology is incompletely known, but seems, in part, to depend on a rise in atrial pressure causing release of atrial natriuretic peptides. Of note, in a recent series of 13 patients with atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT), 12 had associated diuresis (5). Compared to other atrial arrhythmias, the rise in atrial pressure was greatest in AVNRT, as might be expected from symptoms typical of this disorder: cannon A waves and a sensation of pounding in the neck (1).
Thus, the tachycardia-polyuria syndrome is probably a useful indicator of a supraventricular tachycardia, and perhaps AVNRT in particular.
(1) Zimetbaum P, Josephson ME. Evaluation of patients with palpitations. N Engl J Med. 1998;338:1369-73.
(2) Wood P. Polyuria in paroxysmal tachycardia and paroxysmal atrial flutter and fibrillation. Br Heart J. 1963;25:273-82.
(3) Luria MH, Adelson EI, Lochaya S. Paroxysmal tachycardia with polyuria. Ann Int Med. 1966;65:461-70.
(4) Zullo MA. Atrial regulation of intravascular volume: observations on the tachycardia-polyuria syndrome. Am Heart J. 1991;122:188-194.
(5) Abe H, Nagamoto T, Kobayashi H, Miura Y, Araki M, Kuroiwa A, Nakashima Y. Neurohumoral and hemodynamic mechanisms during atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1997;20:2783-2788.