Supraventricular Tachycardia

With an arrhythmia called supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), a glitch with the heart’s electrical system begins in the upper chambers (atria). The heart can then beat more than 100 times per minute, much faster than it should.

Still, effective treatment can prevent side effects such as fainting and dizziness. At Henry Ford Heart & Vascular Institute, we have the experience to keep SVT from interfering with your life.

Why choose Henry Ford Health System for supraventricular tachycardia?

Our electrophysiologists have the expertise to make the right recommendation for you and provide any care needed. Many people with SVT don’t require treatment, not unless they have other heart disorders or experience frequent symptoms.

If you do need treatment for SVT, a minimally invasive ablation procedure can often provide a cure. But some people do better with medication. Our doctors help you understand the options and find the approach that works best for you and your heart.

What causes supraventricular tachycardia?

SVT is usually caused by problems with the heart’s electrical connections, focused on the AV node regulating signals in the upper chambers. But the arrhythmia can have other causes, too, depending on the type affecting your heart.

The three main types of supraventricular tachycardia are:

  • Atrioventricular node re-entrant tachycardia (AVNRT): This is the most common type of SVT and involves the AV node. It occurs more often in women. Symptoms can come and go suddenly.
  • Atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia (AVRT): This type is associated with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, which is occasionally passed down through families. People with WPW have extra electrical connections between the heart’s atria and ventricles (lower chambers).
  • Atrial tachycardia: This is the least common type of SVT. It often occurs in children born with heart disease. For adults, infections and drug and alcohol use may contribute to the development of atrial tachycardia.

Symptoms of supraventricular tachycardia

Symptoms of supraventricular tachycardia can include:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Pounding pulse
  • Racing or fluttering chest (heart palpitations)
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosing supraventricular tachycardia

We start your diagnosis with a thorough evaluation. During your visit, we ask about your overall health. We want to know about conditions that could make episodes of SVT occur more often, including heart disease and thyroid issues.

Your visit may include an electrocardiogram (EKG) or echocardiogram so we can look at your heart’s electrical activity. Depending on the results, we may also recommend heart rhythm monitoring or an EP study.

Ablation and supraventricular tachycardia

Ablation is often our first recommendation if you need treatment for supraventricular tachycardia. These short, safe procedures offer a complete cure for about 90 percent of people with SVT.

We provide a thorough explanation of the ablation procedure so you can decide if it’s the right option.

Other SVT treatments

We also may recommend other treatment options for SVT, including:

  • Arrhythmia medication: Drugs can help control heart rhythm in many people. Find out more about arrhythmia medication.
  • Cardioversion: This noninvasive treatment with small electrical shocks can stop SVT. Learn more about cardioversion.
  • Pacemakers: We occasionally use implanted devices to control SVT. Learn more about pacemakers.
Take the next step.

Request an appointment with an electrophysiologist.

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