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Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

What is supraventricular tachycardia?

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is an abnormally fast heart beat that originates from the top chambers of the heart (atria), but unlike atrial fibrillation, the heart rate is often steady and regular. In most cases, episodes of SVT are usually harmless and will often self-terminate without the need for treatment. 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.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of 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 to the rest of the heart.

Symptoms

Assessment

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 then you will need ambulatory ECG monitoring to try and capture an episode in addition to an ECG and Echocardiogram. Further tests to assess cardiac structure and function or to provoke symptoms may be required.

Treatments

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.

  • Atrial Fibrillation (AF) Catheter Ablation

    This is an invasive procedure to block the electrical signals causing atrial fibrillation and to restore sinus rhythm. [READ MORE]

  • Atrial Flutter Ablation

    This procedure blocks the electrical signals that cause a fluttering heartbeat and restores sinus rhythm. [READ MORE]

  • Atrioventricular (AV) Node Ablation

    This procedure prevents faulty electrical impulses being sent within the heart. [READ MORE]

  • CTCA Scan & Calcium Score

    This scan is used to ascertain the risk of a heart attack or stroke within the next 5-10 years. [READ MORE]

  • Echocardiogram (TTE)

    An ‘echo’ is an ultrasound scan of the heart to assess structure and function. [READ MORE]

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) Test

    An ECG is a simple test that looks at the electrical activity of the heart. [READ MORE]

  • ECG Holter Monitoring

    This monitoring measures the electrical activity of your heart over a longer period than an ECG. [READ MORE]

  • Electrophysiology (EP) Study

    This study analyses the heart's electrical activity and is used to diagnose the cause of abnormal heartbeats. [READ MORE]

  • Event Recording, 1-6 weeks

    Monitors are used to provide a prolonged record of a heart’s operation and symptoms. [READ MORE]

  • Exercise Tolerance Testing

    This test measures the effects on the heart rhythm and blood pressure when exercise is undertaken. [READ MORE]

  • Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR)

    This device records a heart’s rhythm continuously for up to two years. [READ MORE]

  • MRI Scan / CMR Scan

    These scans enable cardiologists to view detailed images of the heart’s anatomy. [READ MORE]

  • Pacemaker & Implanting a Pacemaker

    This is an artificial device that is implanted in the chest to regulate an abnormal heartbeat. [READ MORE]

  • Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) Ablation

    This procedure helps block the electrical signals that cause an abnormal rapid heartbeat. [READ MORE]

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