Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

Also known as: SVT, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), atrial tachycardia ( also includes atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation )

What is Supraventricular Tachycardia?

Supraventricular tachycardia is one type of fast heart arrhythmia; a  quite common one in children is one in which the heart beats at an abnormally fast, regular heart rate from an abnormal electrical impulse that arises from the atria (upper chambers) of the heart.

What causes supraventricular tachycardia? 
The condition occurs due to an electrical problem with the heart. This can occur in babies and children because of certain medical conditions or the use of some medications. Using caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or other drugs can increase the risk.
 

What are the symptoms of supraventricular tachycardia? 

Supraventricular tachycardia often occurs in episodes with stretches of  normal heart rhythm in between. When supraventricular tachycardia occurs, the rapid heartbeat can lead to heart palpitations that you can feel, as well as shortness of breath, anxiety and chest pain. Dizziness or loss of consciousness can also occur.
 

What are supraventricular tachycardia care options? 

Supraventricular episodes often stop on their own. For children who continue to have symptoms, some lifestyle changes like holding one's breath and bearing down ( valsalva manoever ), coughing, avoiding smoking, alcohol and caffeine can help reduce the incidence of supraventricular tachycardia. Medications may be helpful. In some cases, emergency treatment may be needed to slow the heart. Certain surgeries and medical procedures can treat the heart and reduce the chances of supraventricular tachycardia occurring.
 

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 6/12/2018 2:04:11 PM

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