Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) occurs when the heart’s normally precise heart rate speeds up, sometimes as fast as 150 to 200 beats a minute. The heart can return to its normal rate (60 to 100 beats a minute) on its own or through treatment. Often, a person will not know they are having arrhythmia due to SVT.
Symptoms can include palpitations, light-headedness and chest pain. In some instances there may be confusion or even a loss of consciousness.
Supraventricular tachycardia may be treated with catheter ablation. This procedure can eliminate the disease by blocking the abnormal electric impulses as well as the need to take medicine for the rest of your life.
In most cases, radiofrequency (RF) ablation is used to treat rapid heartbeats. A physician guides a catheter into the area of the heart muscle that is sending errant signals to the heart to beat. This destroys the cells in this area (usually about 1/5” in diameter). This stops the region from generating the additional impulses that cause a rapid heartbeat.
To stop supraventricular tachycardia, a dose of adenosine may be administered via IV therapy. If a single dose doesn’t stop it, additional, stronger doses may be used. In 90% of the cases, this stops paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. If this proves ineffective, other medications may be given, including:
Beta-blockers: Relax the heart and slow it down, decreasing blood pressure and lowering the heart’s demand for oxygen.
Calcium channel blockers: Reduces high blood pressure and increases the flow of blood to the heart muscle by opening arteries.
Digoxin: Slows the electrical conduction between the atria and ventricles, reducing the incidences of atrial fibrillation.