What is Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)?
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a condition that causes your heart to suddenly beat faster than the average heart rate. SVT is caused by a problem in the heart's electrical conduction system. An adult's average heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Supraventricular tachycardia is a type of tachycardia, which is a heart rate of more than 100 beats a minute.
Supraventricular tachycardia may be treated with lifestyle changes, medication, or, in some cases, a heart procedure to control rapid heartbeats and related symptoms.
Types of Supraventricular Tachycardia
These are three common types of supraventricular tachycardia:
- Atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT) is the most common form of SVT. It is due to an extra pathway in your heart that causes a rapid heartbeat. AVNRT may start and end suddenly.
- Atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia (AVRT) happens to those born with an extra connection between the upper and lower heart chambers. AVRT is typically diagnosed in children or young adults and is the most common heart arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat) in infants and children.
- Atrial tachycardia occurs when a short circuit in the right or left atrium triggers a faulty electrical signal. It is common in those who have had heart disease or are pregnant.
Signs & Symptoms of Supraventricular Tachycardia
Signs and symptoms of supraventricular tachycardia in adults may include:
- Very fast heartbeat
- Palpitations, fluttering, or pounding in the chest
- Pounding sensation in the neck
- Chest discomfort
- Fatigue, tiredness, or weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Syncope, fainting, loss of consciousness, or collapsing
Supraventricular tachycardia symptoms in children
Symptoms of SVT in babies are subtle and often involve poor feeding, vomiting, or a decrease in the alertness and activity levels of the baby. Babies and children with SVT usually do not have symptoms when they are not having an episode.
In babies and children, symptoms of supraventricular tachycardia are similar to those in adults and may include:
- Heart palpitations
- Rapid heartbeats that happen suddenly
- Chest pain
As newborns and infants cannot communicate their symptoms, it’s essential to notice subtle changes. Symptoms of heart failure in children may develop if an episode lasts more than 24 hours before they receive medical care. These symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Poor feeding
What Causes Supraventricular Tachycardia?
SVT occurs when there is a problem with the heart's electrical signaling. Some types of SVT are genetic or congenital (present at birth), while others are brought about by disease or related to lifestyle habits.
Supraventricular tachycardia causes include:
- Heart disease
- Heart conditions present at birth, such as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
- Lung disease
- Thyroid disease
- Certain medications
- Excess caffeine
- Excess alcohol
- Drug use (for example, cocaine and methamphetamine)
Risk Factors for Supraventricular Tachycardia
Risk factors for supraventricular tachycardia are:
- Age - Certain types of SVT are more common in older people
- Heart disease - Coronary artery disease and other heart diseases
- Congenital heart disease - Heart condition that is present at birth and is typically diagnosed in children or young adults
- Thyroid disease - Patients with hyperactive (overactive) thyroid glands often have supraventricular tachycardia
- Diabetes - Increases the risk of heart disease and supraventricular tachycardia
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Illegal drug use
Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Supraventricular Tachycardia Care
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital provides world-renowned cardiovascular care for adults and children with heart diseases and disorders. Contact us today to make an appointment.