Condition: Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a condition that causes a sudden increase in heart rate, leading to symptoms including palpitations, chest pain and fainting.

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What is
Supraventricular Tachycardia?

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a condition where the heart suddenly starts to beat much faster than normal. Tachycardia is the medical term for a heart rate over 100 beats a minute, while supraventricular refers to the upper chambers of the heart. SVT refers to abnormal heart rhythms coming from the top of the heart.

SVT can affect anyone at any age but depending on which type of SVT they have, most people are diagnosed either in early childhood, in their early 20s or in their 40s.

There are several types of SVT including:

  • AV reciprocating tachycardia (AVRT) (Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome)
  • AV node re-entry tachycardia (AVNRT)
  • Atrial tachycardia
  • Atrial flutter

What are the symptoms of
Supraventricular tachycardia?

SVT causes a very sudden rise in heart rate, usually between 150 to 250 beats per minute, which can last for a few minutes up to a few days. Some people with SVT can feel this, as well as having some other symptoms, while others notice nothing at all.

Symptoms of SVT that you may experience include:

What causes
Supraventricular tachycardia?

SVT arises from “extra bits” of electricity; the heart has electricity to allow it to pump. This additional electrical pathway formed when your heart was developing whilst in the womb, which when triggered causes your heart rate to suddenly quicken.

Some people with SVT will know what triggers their symptoms, while others and most, may not. Situations that can bring about symptoms include:

  • Stress or anxiety 
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Pregnancy
  • Thyroid, lung or heart disease

How is
Supraventricular tachycardia diagnosed?

A OneWelbeck cardiologist will be able to make a diagnosis of supraventricular tachycardia by asking you about your symptoms and medical history, and performing a test called an electrocardiogram (ECG) ​​which records the electrical activity in your heart.

How can
Supraventricular tachycardia be treated?

Lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol and caffeine, and reducing your stress levels can help to reduce your chances of having SVT episodes. It must be stressed that most people will not identify a trigger.

SVT is rarely life-threatening. You may need treatment if you are troubled by symptoms. Your cardiologist may offer you medications that reduce the instances of SVT.

If you are having regular SVT attacks, your cardiologist may also recommend you have a procedure called an electrophysiological study with catheter ablation. This is where heat or freezing therapy is used to destroy any tissue that is causing the abnormal electrical signals in your heart. This treatment cures SVT in most people.

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Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) Specialists

Our Heart Health specialists at OneWelbeck in London are leaders in their field. They are equipped with the latest diagnostic medical technology at custom-built, day-case facilities to investigate any symptoms and ensure you receive the best available care.