Inappropriate sinus tachycardia: an examination of existing definitions

Cody R. Hou, Brian Olshansky, Daniel Cortez, Sue Duval, David G. Benditt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


AIMS: Inappropriate sinus tachycardia (IST) is a syndrome characterized by an elevated sinus rate unassociated with known physiological, pathological, or pharmacological causes. Despite published consensus documents, IST definitions appear to vary in the literature. In this study, we reviewed IST publications to evaluate IST definition variability and ascertain the degree to which consensus definitions are being adopted. METHODS AND RESULTS: English-language articles in PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid Embase, and Google Scholar published from 1 January 1970 to 1 June 2021 with the title terms 'inappropriate sinus tachycardia,' 'non-paroxysmal sinus tachycardia,' or 'permanent sinus tachycardia' were searched. In each, the IST definition used, qualifying characteristics, and publications cited to support each definition were recorded. We identified 138 publications meeting the search criteria. Inappropriate sinus tachycardia definitions were provided in 114 of 138 articles (83%). A majority of definitions (92/114, 81%) used distinct heart rate (HR) thresholds. Among these, the most common threshold was ≥100 beats per minute (BPM) (75/92, 82%), mainly measured at rest (54/92, 59%). Most definitions (47/92, 51%) included a second criterion to qualify for IST; these were most often an HR threshold of 90 BPM measured over 24 h by ambulatory electrocardiogram (37/47, 79%). Diagnosis of exclusion was a common criterion (75/92, 82%) but symptom status was not (41/92, 45%). The 2015 Heart Rhythm Society IST consensus was commonly cited but adopted in only 37% of definitions published after 2015. CONCLUSIONS: Inappropriate sinus tachycardia definitions in current literature are inconsistent, and professional society consensus IST definitions have, to date, had limited impact.

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:


  • Definition‌
  • Heart rate
  • Inappropriate sinus tachycardia
  • Literature review


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