Symptomatic Supraventricular Tachycardia

What is Symptomatic Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)?

Symptomatic supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is an abnormal heart rate of over 100 beats per minute. It is due to an electrical problem in the heart that causes the heart to beat faster and more forcefully than normal. It can feel like your heart is pounding, racing, or skipping beats. It can happen suddenly and lasts for a few seconds or several minutes. If left untreated, it can cause serious symptoms or even death.

What are the Symptoms of SVT?

The symptoms of SVT can vary depending on how severe the condition is. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Palpitations or a pounding sensation in the chest or neck
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Fainting or passing out

What Causes SVT?

SVT is usually caused by an electrical problem in the heart. This can be due to an extra electrical pathway, a weakness or blockage in the heart, or a problem with the heart structure itself. Other causes of SVT include certain medications, alcohol or tobacco use, high blood pressure, and certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders or diabetes.

How Is SVT Diagnosed and Treated?

SVT is usually diagnosed by a doctor based on medical history, physical exam, and special tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG). Once a diagnosis is made, treatment options may include medications, lifestyle changes, or surgery.

Medications, such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, can help slow down the heart rate and relieve symptoms associated with SVT. Lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, getting plenty of rest, and exercising regularly may also help reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.

If medications and lifestyle changes do not improve symptoms, surgery may be necessary to correct the electrical problem in the heart. This procedure is typically done under general anesthesia and involves catheter ablation, a procedure in which electrical pathways in the heart are destroyed to prevent SVT.