Supraventricular Tachycardia

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is an unusually fast heart rate that begins in the upper part of the heart called the atria. If the rapid heart rate last long enough, SVT may cause symptoms, such as heart palpitations, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, anxiety, chest discomfort and fainting.

Unlike atrial fibrillation, SVT is not associated with an increased risk of stroke and blood-thinning medication is not needed. Risk factors for SVT include increasing age, heart disease, smoking, drinking alcohol, stress, certain medications and drug use.

There are several treatment options for SVT. If treated in the ER, IV medications can be given to correct the heart rate. Afterwards, oral medications can be used to try to suppress the SVT. Radiofrequency ablation is also an option. During this procedure, high-frequency radio waves are used to “zap” the heart tissue that’s causing the irregular electrical signals. Ablation for SVT tends to have a much higher success rate than for atrial fibrillation.