Supraventricular Tachycardia

Supraventricular Tachycardia or SVT is an abnormal condition with which the patient’s heart beats faster than usual. When the heart of a healthy human beats around 72 times per minute, the same of an SVT patient beats for more than 100 times due to inappropriate electrical action in the chambers of the heart.

The heart of every individual normally has four chambers. The upper two chambers are known as atria and the lower two as ventricles. Atria obtain blood from the arteries and move it to the ventricles. The ventricles push out the blood from the heart to the lungs through the blood vessels, which further send it to the other organs of the body along with the oxygen.

This activity causes electrical impulses within the heart, which cause the heart beats or pulsation. A normal heart repeats this process for around 72 times every minute. This rate may raise temporality in many conditions like while running. When the heart repeats it for more than 100 times every minute constantly, the condition is known as SVT.

It is more likely that the healthy kids observing a growth and those young and elderly individuals suffering from some heart disease observe SVT. However, individuals from any age group may observe this condition. SVT in the children is normal and do not require any major attention. However, in case the kids are experiencing other symptoms along with it such as irritation, lack of appetite, excessive and abnormal sweating, discolouration of the skin, or if their pulse rate goes above 200 beats per minute, they must be consulted with a paediatrician or a cardiologist.

Note that in many cases, SVT may not be a troublesome disease. Most of the individuals observing it may live a healthy and normal life without any difficulty. However, it can be associated with some underlying health problem related to the heart. For instance, high pulse rate means that the heart is functioning too rapidly than usual. With the constant overperformance of the heart, its muscles would not get the chance to relax in between.

This may cause it to exert, and the patient may suffer a heart attack or heart failure. Rest than this, when the heart muscles of the SVT patients would not get a chance to relax due to overperformance, those may not contract sufficiently. This would restrict them from transferring blood and oxygen to various vital parts of the body such as the brain. Due to this, those parts may not function properly, and the patient may experience dizziness, faintness and other disorders.

Symptoms

Many individuals may experience SVT or high pulsation in episodes with normal pulse rates in between. In the initial phase, they may experience the high pulsation only for few minutes every day, which may increase gradually. The major symptoms associated with SVT are mentioned below:

-  An abnormal flutter sensation in the chest near to the heart

-  Palpitation or rapid heartbeats (more than 100 per minute in the adults and more than 200 in the kids)

-  Breath shortness during the brisk walk, jogging or exercising

-  Dizziness or fainting

-  Excessive and unusual sweating

-  Stress near to the neck

-  Lack of diet and skin discoloration in the infants

Causes

The various causes of SVT in the adults are mentioned below:

-  Psychological stress and anxiety

-  Physical exertion or fatigue

-  Insufficient sleep

-  Lack of physical activity

-  An early symptom of heart failure

-  Thyroid-related disorders such as hyperthyroid and hypothyroid

-  Lung diseases

-  Active or passive smoking

-  Overconsumption of alcohol

-  Overconsumption of nicotine and caffeine products

-  Using illegal drugs like cocaine

-  Consumption of some medicines like those for treating asthma, cold, cough, and allergic reactions

-  Post effect of some heart surgery

-  Damaged heart muscles

-  Congenital heart problems

-  Narrowing of heart arteries

-  Malfunctioning of heart valves

-  Coronary artery diseases

-  Pregnancy

-  Other diseases and health problems like Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiomyopathy

-  Individuals hailing from elderly age groups are more likely to suffer from SVT

Prevention

Since SVT is caused due to multiple reasons, it is very difficult to avoid it completely. In case you are already suffering from it, you must consult a heart specialist, understand the causes that trigger your symptoms, and avoid those. Additionally, the following are some prevention measures that you must ensure to avoid SVT:

-  Adopt a balanced and healthy diet. Avoid eating junk food and those containing saturated fat. Your meals should contain fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other plant-based food items.

-  Workout regularly to keep your heart healthy.

-  Quit or avoid smoking. It may impact the arteries and interrupt the blood flow within the heart valves.

-  Maintain a healthy body weight in compliance with the standard Body-Mass Index (BMI). Remember that being obese increases the chances to adopt various heart-related problems.

-  Avoid or limit your alcohol consumption.

-  Avoid intake of a large amount of caffeine.

-  Try to have proper sleep and rest in the night. Avoid late night sleeping.

-  Avoid anxiety and stress with the help of meditation and entertainment modes.

-  Get regular follow-ups with your doctors if you are a patient of high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.

-  Undergo regular health check-ups for the identification of any abnormality. Discuss the findings of health check-ups with the physician and follow the recommendations very carefully.

-  Consume medicines only with the prescription from your doctor. Some over the counter medicines for various diseases like cold or cough may contain stimulants, which can raise the heartbeat. Additionally, many patients are allergic to certain medicines, which may trigger their chances for high pulsation. Inform your doctor about such medicines before any prescription.

How is it diagnosed?

On observing high pulsation or any other symptom related to SVT, you must consult your physician or cardiologist. The doctor would analyse your symptoms and medical history and may prescribe one and more investigations for identifying the cause of SVT. Some of those may include the following heart-monitoring investigations related to arrhythmia:

-  Electrocardiogram or ECG: In this test, an electrical device records the operational condition of the patient’s heart, for which around 12 electrodes are attached to the patient’s legs, arms and chest. It would measure the duration of each electrical phase in your heart’s valves and checks for the abnormalities.

-  Holter Monitor: This test is an extension of the ECG test in which a portable device is attached to the body of the patient for one to two days. It constantly records the patient’s heart activity and identifies the frequency for which the heartbeat exceeds beyond the normal limit.

-  Event Monitor: This test is a further extension of the ECG and even of the Holter Monitor. When the event monitoring device is attached to your body, you may simply use a press button to start monitoring the heartbeat and other functions of the heart observing the symptoms.

-  Echocardiogram or ECHO Test: In this test, a device called a transducer is placed above the chest of the patient for the assessment of the heart’s performance. The device uses the ultrasound waves to capture the pictures of the heart and its nearby areas. This generates video images of the heart to identify if some portion of the heart is damaged and is restricting the normal pumping of the blood.

-  Implantable Loop Recorder Test: This test involves implanting of a small device under the chest’s skin of the patient. It aims at detecting the abnormality in the heartbeats of the patient.

-  Stress Test: In some patients, the symptoms of SVT are worsened with exertion or stress imposed on their body. A stress test aims at recording the abnormality of the heart during a brisk walk or jog on a treadmill, or with wheeling a stationary bicycle. In case the symptoms are observed because of the coronary artery disease caused by arrhythmia, the patient may face difficulty in exercising.

-  Tilt Table Test: In case the patient observes fainting along with high pulse rate, the tilt table test may be prescribed. In this test, the patient is first asked to lay down on a flat table, which is tilted to observe the heartbeat and blood pressure changes. This test monitors the functioning of the heart’s valve and nervous system with the change in table’s angle.

-  Electrophysiological Testing and Mapping: This test requires the doctors to insert thin tubes or catheters with electrodes into the blood vessels to the patient’s heart. Those electrodes map the electrical impulses of the heart’s valves to identify the dysfunction.

-  Laboratory Tests: These may be performed to diagnose if the high pulse rate is because of hyperthyroid or hypothyroid.

Treatment

In many of the cases, a treatment is not needed for the SVT condition. Post the diagnosis of the root cause of SVT, cardiologists may prescribe treatment to the patient per their discretion, if required. The various possible treatments for SVT are discussed below:

- Carotid Sinus Massage: This massage requires the application of balanced pressure on the neck of the patient. This area is the junction for the carotid artery to split for releasing the chemicals used in lowering the heart rate. You must note that the carotid sinus massage needs specialization and must not be practised on your own. In case it is attempted by inexperienced individuals, it may cause blood clots, which can further lead to a heart injury or even a stroke.

- Reducing Intensity Through Some Tested Methodologies: The cardiologist would also teach the patients of SVT to reduce or even stop its intensity through several safer methodologies. For instance, holding breath for up to 30 seconds repeatedly will help in lowering the pulse rate. Additionally, keeping face in the ice-chilled water for some time repeatedly would also help such patients. Then patients may practice forced coughing. Such methods are generally formalized to impact the nervous system, which controls the nerves involved in the regulation of heartbeat. This, in turn, lowers down the heartbeat rate of the patients.

- Cardioversion: This process involves passing a shock through the patient’s heart for impacting its electrical impulses and restoring a normal rhythm.

- Medications: In case you suffer from the symptoms of SVT very frequently that affects your normal routine activities, the cardiologist may prescribe medicines for controlling the heart rate. Generally, the patients are prescribed the anti-arrhythmic medicines to minimize the risk of complications. They may be prescribed the injection of adenosine or Adenocard, which reduces the heart rate by obstructing the conduction of SA node for few seconds. This drug induces some short-term side effects, such as chest pain, breath shortness, dizziness and nausea. Other than those, the patients may be prescribed beta blockers for lowering the pulse rate and regulating the blood pressure.

- Surgery for Pacemaker Installation: In extreme cases, the heart surgeons would install a pacemaker in the heart of the patient. A pacemaker is an artificial electronic device, which acts the same way, the SA node of the heart does.

Complications

SVT is a notable disease, which must be discussed with the doctor when the symptoms are observed. In rare cases, it may cause complications to the patients. For instance, SVT causes overperformance of the heart valves, which may result in a heart failure in extreme cases. Additionally, some patients of SVT observe faintness, which may result in them to meet some fatal accident.

Myths

Myth #1: SVT is caused only because of high cholesterol in the blood.

High cholesterol levels in the blood could increase the pulse rate of the patient. However, there are multiple other reasons because of which this problem can occur.

Myth #2: SVT is always fatal.

SVT could be harmless in most of the cases. However, you must discuss your condition with the doctor before leaving it untreated.

Myth #3: SVT can be cured just by adopting a healthy diet.

In some cases, adopting a healthy diet and streamlining your lifestyle may improve the symptoms. However, the doctor would best help you in identifying the correct methodology to adopt for avoiding any complication.

Myth #4: High pulse rate in the kids is normal.

It may be normal for the kids in their growth to have an increased heart rate. However, if their pulse rate exceeds 200 pulses per minute, or if other symptoms are observed, they must be taken to a doctor.

Last updated on : 14-09-2018

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