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Supraventricular Tachycardia

Intro

Supraventricular tachycardia is generally not life threatening unless you have other heart disorders. Call your health care provider if any of the following conditions occur:

  • The episode of rapid heartbeat or palpitations   is your first, and the symptoms last longer than a few seconds to a minute or two.
  • You have had previous episodes of supraventricular tachycardia, and the current episode does not go away with vagal maneuvers (coughing, deep breathing, or muscle tensing).

The following conditions warrant a visit to the nearest hospital emergency department. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. Call 911 for emergency help.

  • You have rapid heartbeat and feel dizzy or faint.
  • You have rapid heartbeat with chest pain  .
  • You feel short of breath with rapid heartbeat  .

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Self-Care at Home

In most people, supraventricular arrhythmias are not dangerous. Mild arrhythmias, such as isolated premature beats, may require no treatment. A few people, however, may have arrhythmias that become dangerous and require immediate, perhaps prolonged, treatment.

In most cases, you might attempt the following simple maneuvers, called vagal maneuvers, to assist your body in slowing your heart rate.

  • Hold your breath for a few seconds
  • Dip your face in cold water
  • Cough
  • Tense your stomach muscles as if you are bearing down to have a bowel movement

If these maneuvers do not work, lie down and relax. Take some slow, deep breaths. Often, your heart will slow by itself.

If the symptoms continue, get immediate transport to a hospital. If you have frequent episodes of rapid heartbeat, you should be evaluated by a medical professional.

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The following lifestyle choices may help control your condition:

  • Learn how to count your pulse. Then make sure your pulse is regular. Ask your health care provider or nurse to teach you how to count your pulse. It should be between 50-100 per minute and regular.
  • Check with your health care provider before taking any over-the-counter cough, cold, or pain medicines.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise makes your heart stronger and more efficient and lowers your overall blood pressure   and heart rate.
  • Learn to relax to control stress. Some relaxation techniques include muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, and biofeedback.
  • Control other illnesses by complying with your doctor's recommendations.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce caffeine intake.
  • Avoid illicit drug use. Most stimulate your heart.
  • Control your weight. Obesity   makes your heart work much harder.
  • Work toward a diet low in fat, cholesterol, and salt.
  • Cut back on excessive alcohol use.
Follow-up

Your health care provider may want to monitor your progress, depending on the severity of your symptoms and the source of your supraventricular tachycardia. He or she may choose to monitor you for a few weeks or months for the following reasons:

  • To assess the frequency of the recurrence of arrhythmias and heart rate
  • To adjust or change medications based on clinical, repeat ECG, or Holter evaluations
  • To plan further therapy if your condition worsens

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Prevention
  • Reduce stress in your life.
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Eliminate caffeine and other stimulants and alcohol.
  • Comply with medications and medical advice.
  • Learn more about your problem.
Outlook

Most people with episodes of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia live a healthy life without restrictions.

  • If you take medications, you may or may not experience some side effects. Discuss those potential side effects with your health provider.
  • In rare cases, if you have a continuous fast heart rate that goes untreated, your heart muscle can weaken and lead to heart failure  .
  • If your doctor finds a specific cause related to an underlying heart or systematic condition, your recovery may depend on your prognosis for that underlying condition.

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