Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is an abnormally fast heartbeat that originates from the top chambers of the heart (atria), but unlike atrial fibrillation, the heart rate is often steady and regular.
What is a SVT?
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), also called paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, is defined as an abnormally fast heartbeat. It's a broad term that includes many forms of heart rhythm problems (heart arrhythmias) that originate above the ventricles (supraventricular) in the atria or AV node.
Examples are atrial flutter, AV node reentry tachycardia and Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome.
In most cases, episodes of SVT are usually harmless and will often self-terminate without the need for treatment rarely they can become life-threatening.
However, you should seek medical advice if you have prolonged episodes of SVT. The condition is usually harmless but does require careful assessment to determine the optimal management.
What are the symptoms for Supraventricular Tachycardia?
The most common symptom of SVT is palpitations, described as a rapid heartbeat. In some patients these may be associated with dizziness, breathlessness or chest tightness and in some cases, this can cause fainting. Even though the heart can beat at very fast rates, SVTs are usually not life-threatening.
There are a number of different types of SVT which include having either an extra ‘wire’ in your heart which can ‘short circuit’ to cause symptoms or having an area of the upper chambers that triggers independently from the rest of the heart.
What assessment do I need if I have Supraventricular Tachycardia?
If you have had a previous admission to the hospital with an SVT then your cardiologist will already have the diagnosis and will perform an ECG and Echocardiogram to ensure that your heart is structurally normal. Your cardiologist will then be able to advise you on the best treatment options.
If the diagnosis is not clear but SVT is suspected, you will need beside an ECG and an Echocardiography, an ambulatory ECG monitoring over a longer period of time, usually 24 to 72 hours, sometimes even up to 7 days, called a Holter ECG, trying to eventually capture such an episode.
Further tests to assess cardiac structure and function or to provoke symptoms may be required.
What are the treatments for Supraventricular Tachycardia?
There are a number of different approaches to the treatment of SVTs which can be tailored to your individual circumstances. SVTs are potentially curable with catheter ablation.
In patients with less frequent symptoms medication can be used to control the heart rhythm. This may be in the form of regular, daily medication to prevent episodes or single doses to take during an attack to try and stop it. Your cardiologist will be able to advise you as to best treatment options.
What intervention/ treatment does CardioCare offer for supraventricular tachycardia?
EP-studies to provoke the arrhythmias and subsequent radiofrequency ablation therapy