How is Ventricular Fibrillation Diagnosed?
To find out if you have supraventricular tachycardia, your doctor will perform an exam and possibly recommend further tests.
- Medical history and physical examination - Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, your medical history, and your family's medical history and will perform a physical examination
- Blood tests - To determine if you have thyroid disease or other condition that causes elevated heartbeat
- Diagnostic tests - To evaluate the function of the heart. These tests may include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) measures your heart's electrical activity, rate, and rhythm
- Echocardiogram (echo) creates an image of your heart's valves and chambers and measures your heart's strength level of pumping
- Holter monitor is a portable ECG device. It records the heart's electrical activity over a day or longer while you are away from the doctor's office.
- Cardiac event recorder is a portable ECG device that you control to record your heart's electrical activity when you have symptoms. It detects occasional arrhythmias and is typically worn for up to 30 days.
- Implantable loop recorder detects irregular heart rhythms and is implanted under the skin in the chest area
How is Supraventricular Tachycardia Treated?
For most patients with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), treatment involves lifestyle changes, medication, or, in some cases, a heart procedure to control the rapid heartbeats and related symptoms. SVT treatments may be necessary if you have frequent episodes, symptoms such as dizziness, chest pain, or fainting, or if your heart rate does not return to normal.
Nonsurgical treatments for SVT include healthy lifestyle changes, vagal maneuvers, and medication options.
- Lifestyle changes to reduce your risk factor may include:
- Avoiding or quitting smoking
- Keeping a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Checking and maintaining a healthy blood pressure
- Checking and maintaining a healthy cholesterol level
- Avoiding or limiting alcohol and caffeine
- Maintaining follow-up care and taking medications regularly
- Vagal maneuvers may help ease symptoms of SVT that start suddenly. These include:
- Bearing down, increasing pressure in the abdomen by contracting the abdominal muscles and holding your breath
- Putting an ice-cold wet towel on your face
- Medication - Your doctor may prescribe daily medicines or on an as-needed basis to control your heart rate
Surgical procedures may be recommended when lifestyle changes, vagal maneuvers, and medications do not help with SVT. They include:
- Catheter ablation - In this procedure, the extra electrical pathway or cells in the heart that are causing the fast heart rate can be identified and destroyed. Your doctor will insert thin, flexible tubes called catheters through the veins or arteries. Sensors on the catheter cause small scars in the heart to stop the irregular electrical signals. Ablation is considered safe.
- Cardioversion - A medical procedure to control an abnormally fast heart rate, such as in SVT, and restore a normal rhythm using electricity or medications. In cardioversion, electrodes are placed on the chest to send electric shocks to the heart. The shock changes the heart's electrical signals and restores a regular heartbeat.
You should go to the hospital if you have an episode of SVT that lasts for more than a few minutes and/or you have any of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Do the simple vagal maneuverswhichmay help ease symptoms of SVT:
- Bearing down - increasing pressure in the abdomen by contracting the abdominal muscles and holding your breath
- Putting an ice-cold wet towel on your face
- Your doctor may also prescribe medication for when you have an episode.
The symptoms usually last an average of 10 to 15 minutes, but you may feel a rapid heartbeat, or palpitations, for just a few seconds. Though rare, symptoms can last for several hours in some cases.
Most patients with supraventricular tachycardia don't need treatment. For those with symptoms, nonsurgical and surgical options are available.
Your doctor will recommend the most appropriate treatment for your specific situation. Surgical procedures to treat SVT are used when nonsurgical treatments of lifestyle changes, vagal maneuvers, and medications do not work.
Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Supraventricular Tachycardia Treatment
If you experience a change in your heartbeat, the experts at NewYork-Presbyterian are here to answer your concerns and recommend a course of treatment. Contact us today to make an appointment.