Supraventricular Tachycardia

What is Supraventricular Tachycardia?

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is an abnormally high heart rate, greater than 100 beats per minute. Atrial tachycardia, atrioventricular reentry tachycardia (AVRT) and atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia (AVNRT) are among the types of supraventricular tachycardia. SVT can come on suddenly and may resolve on its own in a matter of minutes or days. Medications and cardioversion ("shocking" procedure that uses electricity to restore normal heart rhythm) are among the treatments.

Catheter Ablation  Catheter Ablation

Risk Factors

  • Smoking 
  • Excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption
  • Illicit drug use (such as cocaine and methamphetamine)
  • Thyroid disease
  • Coronary artery disease 
  • Medications (such as those for asthma) 
  • Pregnancy 

Symptoms

  • Heart racing or the heart skipping beats
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness 
  • Passing out

Diagnosis and Tests

  • Electrocardiogram 
  • 24-hour Holter monitor
  • 30-day event monitor 
  • Echocardiogram 
  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA)
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)

Treatments

The common first-line approach to therapy are medications such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers. These medications can sometimes suppress and slow the arrhythmia, but they are not curative. The standard approach for symptomatic SVT is a minimally-invasive approach called an ablation procedure. By placing a catheter in the heart, the Heart Rhythm Center can locate the extra electrical pathways and melt them away, preventing any further consequences of fast heart rhythms.

  • Medications that slow heart rate
  • Medications that control heart rhythm 
  • Cardioversion (use of electricity to restore normal heart rhythm) 
  • Catheter ablation