HealthSheets™


Treatment for Supraventricular Tachycardia

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a type of abnormally fast heartbeat. The heart normally beats 60 to 100 beats per minute. With SVT, the heart beats more than 100 times a minute. It may beat as fast as 250 times a minute. This is caused by a problem in the electrical system of the heart. It can lessen the amount of blood pumped through the heart.

Types of treatment

You may not need treatment for SVT if you have only had one episode. If you do need treatment, there are several kinds. They include:

  • Valsalva maneuver. This is a way to increase pressure in the abdomen and chest. It can correct your heart rhythm right away. To do it, you bear down with your stomach muscles, as though you are trying to have a bowel movement.

  • Carotid massage. Your healthcare provider may gently rub the carotid artery in your neck. This can also help correct the heart rhythm right away.

  • Medicine. There are various kinds you can take. Calcium channel blockers or adenosine can help correct heart rhythm right away. If you have SVT only 1 or 2 times a year, you may take beta-blockers or calcium channel medicine as needed. If your SVT is more frequent, you may need to take medicine every day. Some people may need to take several medicines to prevent episodes of SVT.

  • Electrocardioversion. This is a shock to the heart to restart a normal rhythm right away. This may be done if you have a severe episode of SVT.

  • Catheter ablation. This can help permanently stop SVT. Your healthcare provider puts a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in the groin. He or she then gently pushes it up into your heart. The area of your heart that causes your SVT is then burned. This prevents that area from starting a signal that causes SVT. 

Lifestyle changes to help prevent SVT episodes

Your healthcare provider might suggest other ways to help prevent SVT, such as:

  • Having less alcohol and caffeine

  • Not smoking

  • Lowering your stress

  • Eating foods that are healthy for your heart

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:

  • Sudden shortness of breath (call 911)

  • Severe palpitations

  • Severe dizziness

  • Severe chest pain

  • Symptoms that are happening more often

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