Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)

Abnormally fast heart rate

Supraventricular tachycardia is an abnormality of your heart's rhythm, where it may suddenly beat faster than normal

About SVT

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that causes a sudden, rapid heart beat. SVT happens when there's an electrical abnormality in the middle of the heart or in the upper chambers of the heart (atria). There are several types of SVTs. They can occur at any age from in the womb to old age.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of supraventricular tachycardia?  icon plus

    You may not have any symptoms if you have SVT. You may feel your heart suddenly start racing and then suddenly revert to normal. Other common symptoms may include:

    • lightheadedness or dizziness
    • fainting
    • shortness of breath
    • fatigue
    • chest pain
  • Diagnosing SVT  icon plus

    If your consultant thinks you have SVT, there are a number of outpatient tests available. A Holter monitor, a portable ECG recording device to monitor your heart over time, is the main way to detect arrhythmia, including SVT. You will be given an electrocardiogram (ECG)  that records the rate, rhythm and electrical activity of your heart.

    Sometimes other tests are needed like an exercise ECG, an ECG carried out as you walk on a treadmill. Alternatively you may have an implantable loop recorder. You will also have an echocardiogram, an ultrasound test of your heart.

  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    SVT may need both short-term and long-term treatment. Your consultant will let you know a range of potential different treatment options. These may include:

    • Techniques designed to stimulate the vagus nerve called vagal manoeuvres, which can terminate your SVT when it happens.
    • Pill in the pocket tablet treatment, which you take when an attack starts.
    • Medication delivered intravenously.
    • Cardioversion, a relatively simple procedure that shocks your heart back into a normal rhythm.
    • Catheter ablation, cauterising the extra connections in your heart carrying the SVT which is usually curative.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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