SVT Could Be the Cause of Your Racing Heart

When exercising or exerting yourself, you may not be surprised by an increase in your heart rate. While sleeping or relaxing with a good book, however, a racing heart can be quite alarming. At rest, there is no reason whatsoever for the heart to pound uncontrollably. This type of event accounts for numerous visits to the emergency room. Once evaluated, what patients may hear is that their racing heart is a symptom of supraventricular tachycardia, also known as SVT.

What is SVT?

SVT is a type of arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. It results from an abnormality in the electrical impulses that cause the chambers of the heart muscle to contract. These vital electrical impulses originate in the sinoatrial (SA) node that is situated at the top of the right atrium. In the SA, electrical impulses are coordinated to maintain steady heart rhythm. A malfunction in this node leads to disorganized electrical impulses, resulting in episodes of rapid heart rate reaching beyond 200 beats per minute.

Types of SVT

There are various types of SVT, each determined by the area in which the electrical misfire is occurring.

  • Atrioventricular Node Re-Entrant Tachycardia (AVNRT) is present in approximately 60 percent of SVT cases. This abnormality involves a misfire in the AV node that causes electrical impulses to circle rather than travel away from the node.
  • Atrioventricular Reciprocating Tachycardia (AVRT) occurs when a secondary electrical pathway exists between the upper and lower chambers of the heart. This pathway can “catch” electrical impulses, keeping them from their normal conduction system.
  • Atrial Tachycardia (AT) involves electrical impulses originating outside of the SA node. These repeated signals then circle the atria instead of traveling through the heart muscle.

Treating SVT

Some patients do not require ongoing treatment for SVT. If the problem recurs frequently, a doctor may prescribe medication that controls heart rhythm. Medication must be taken as directed in order to prevent future SVT episodes. Recurrent SVT may also be treated with catheter ablation. This procedure may eliminate the need to continually rely on medication to sustain a normal heart rhythm. Catheter ablation works by first identifying where the abnormal electrical impulse originates and then by ablating, or heating that tissue so it can no longer produce electrical signals.

Schedule your Consultation

Understandably, a racing heart can be a frightening experience, especially when it occurs frequently. SVT can be treated safely and, in most cases, easily. To schedule a consultation with one of our esteemed cardiologists, call 516-437-5600.

Posted in: Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

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