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Understanding Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) is a problem with your heart rhythm. It happens when your heart beats really fast, but the fast beats start from the top part of your heart. This can make you feel your heart racing, dizzy, out of breath, and like your chest is uncomfortable. Sometimes, this happens quickly and doesn’t hurt you, but other times, it might last longer and you’ll need help.

Different Kinds of SVT

There are a few kinds of SVT, like:

  • AVNRT: (Atrioventricular Nodal Reentrant Tachycardia) This is the most common kind. It’s like a loop in your heart’s special electrical part.
  • AVRT: (Atrioventricular Reciprocating Tachycardia) This happens because of a strange extra pathway in your heart.
  • AT: (Atrial Tachycardia) This starts from the top part of your heart.
  • MAT: (Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia) This is when the top part of your heart gets mixed up with many fast signals.

Evaluation and Initial Treatment of Supraventricular Tachycardia | Nejm, Accessed 29 Aug. 2023.

How to Get Better

There are different techniques that can be used to help when the heart is beating too fast.

  • Aggressive Coughing
  • Valsalva Maneuver: Take a deep breath and then try to blow the air out while closing your mouth and nose. It’s like you’re pushing but not letting the air out. This trick might stop the fast heartbeat for a little bit because of how you’re breathing. It gives the heart a small break.

  • The Modified Valsalva Maneuver:  This is a bit like the regular Valsalva, but with an extra step to make it work better. First, do the deep breaths and blowing like before. Then lie down with your legs a bit up in the air. By raising your legs, your heart gets more blood, and it can sometimes stop the fast heartbeat even better.

  • Carotid Massage: A gentle massage to your neck to help slow down a fast heartbeat. A doctor or nurse gently presses on the neck’s side where you can feel your heartbeat. By pressing this part of your neck, it is telling your heart to slow down. But only doctors or nurses should do this because it’s tricky and can be a little risky.

To help with SVT, there are different things to try:

  • Medicine: Doctors might give you medicine to stop the fast heartbeats or make them happen less.
  • Electric Shock (Cardioversion): Sometimes, doctors might use a shock to help your heart beat normally again.
  • Procedure (Ablation): They can do a procedure where they get rid of the part of your heart causing the problem.
  • Devices: For some people, doctors might suggest putting a pacemaker in your heart to help control the beats.

Living with SVT

If you have SVT, there are things you can do to stay healthy:

  • Find Your Triggers: Figure out things that make your heart go fast, like too much coffee or being stressed. Try not to do these things.
  • Eat Good Food: Eat things that are good for your heart, like fruits, veggies, and lean meat. Don’t eat too much junk food or salt.
  • Do not consume alcohol or recreational drugs and reduce caffeine consumption.
  • Drink Water: Make sure you drink enough water because being dry can make SVT worse.
  • Relax: Find ways to relax, like meditating or taking deep breaths.
  • Exercise: Do gentle exercise as your doctor tells you. This can be good for your heart.
  • Keep Track: Write down when your heart goes too fast, what might have caused it, and any medicine you took. This can help your doctor understand what’s happening better.

SVT might sound scary, but you can still have a good life by taking care of yourself, following what your doctor says, and living in a heart-healthy way. Just remember to talk to your doctor about what’s best for you and stay healthy. If you would like to learn more about SVT please visit the video below.

Valsalva Maneuver Demonstration