Know the basics
What is supraventricular tachycardia?
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) occurs when the heart beats too fast, causing the heart to not be completely filled with blood. The heart normally beats 60–100 bpm but with supraventricular tachycardia the heart beats 150–250 beats per minute (bpm). There are many types of supraventricular tachycardia that includes chronic atrial fibrillation (AFIB), paroxysmal sinus tachycardia, atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia (AVNRT) and atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia (AVRT), including Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. If you suspect you have SVT, you should seek medical attention immediately.
How common is supraventricular tachycardia?
Both men and women can have SVT, but it appears to be more common in women. SVT is the most common arrythmia in children. You can minimized the chance of having hernias by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of supraventricular tachycardia?
The most common symptom is palpitation or rapid heartbeat.
Others include dizziness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, fainting, angina (chest pain), tiredness, sweating, and nausea. Symptoms may start and stop suddenly and last for a few minutes. Some people may not experience any symptoms at all. In some serious cases, patients may lose their consciousness.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes supraventricular tachycardia?
Normally, the electrical signal that starts in the heart’s sinoatrial (SA) node starts the contraction of the atria. Then, ventricles contract. SVT occurs when an extra electrical pathway triggers fast heartbeats. Causes include:
- Medicines (such as digoxin, theophylline);
- Lung conditions (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia);
- Alcohol, caffeine, illicit drugs, and smoking increase the risk of SVT;
- One type of SVT known as Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome may be inherited.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for supraventricular tachycardia?
Certain factors may increase your risk of developing SVT:
- Damage to heart tissues from heart disease;
- Abnormal electrical pathways in the heart present at birth (congenital);
- High blood pressure;
- Over-intensive exercise;
- Anxiety, suddenly stress, such as fright;
- Smoke or drink too much alcohol and caffeinated beverages;
- Abuse of recreational drugs, such as cocaine;
- Imbalance of electrolytes, mineral-related substances necessary for conducting electrical impulses;
- Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
Not having risk factors does not mean you cannot get SVT. These factors are for reference only. You should consult your doctor for more details.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is supraventricular tachycardia diagnosed?
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is an effective tool that is widely practiced by physians for diagnosing tachycardia as well as other cardiovascular problems.
The doctor can make a diagnosis by listening to heart sounds. Blood moves abnormally through the mitral valve and cause a sound called a murmurwhich can be heard with the help of a stethocope. The timing and location of the murmur help the doctor tell which valve is affected.
The doctor uses a physical examination, medical history, electrocardiography (ECG), laboratory tests, and chest X-ray for the initial diagnosis. The doctor may order a Holter monitor, a portable 24-hour ECG, to determine how often SVT occurs during a 24-hour period. The doctor may also want an electrophysiology study (EPS) for more accurate diagnosis.
How is supraventricular tachycardia treated?
Treatment is not necessary for people without symptoms.
For symptoms, treatment includes vagal maneuvers, such as the Valsalva maneuver or coughing, and splashing ice water on the face.
Drugs like adenosine, diltiazem and verapamil may be prescribed. The doctor may use electrical cardioversion for emergency treatment or if other treatments don’t work. In electrical cardioversion, a brief electric shock is given to reset the heart’s rhythm.
For recurring SVT, treatment may involve drugs (such as beta-blockers), pacemakers, catheter ablation, and surgery.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage supraventricular tachycardia?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with supraventricular tachycardia.
- Limit or don’t drink alcohol.
- Increase the amount of rest.
- Consume tea and coffee in moderation.
- Stay away from recreational drugs, such as cocaine.
- Exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
- Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.
- Quit smoking. Consult your doctor about strategies or programs to help you give up a smoking habit.
- Use over-the-counter medications with cautionas they may contain stimulants that may trigger a rapid heartbeat. Ask your doctor for a list of medications that you need to avoid.
- Learn to cope with stress. Avoid unnecessary stress and learn how to handle normal stress in a healthy way.
- Tracking the progress of cardiac arrhythmias and understanding the substances causing arrhythmias. For example, your heart rate increased after drinking coffee.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier, 2012. Print edition.
Supraventricular tachycardia. http://www.emedicinehealth.com/supraventricular_tachycardia-health/article_em.htm. Accessed July 7, 2016.
Tachycardia. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tachycardia/basics/causes/con-20043012?p=1. Accessed July 7, 2016.
Supraventricular tachycardia. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000183.htm. Accessed July 7, 2016.