What is Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia?

Marked by an abnormality in heart rate, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia can affect people of all ages even those without other heart diseases.

Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia

Marked by an abnormality in heart rate, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia can affect people of all ages even those without other heart diseases. This happens when the heart rate is faster than usual. Normally, the heart has a sinus node which informs the heart muscle to contract via electical signals. People who have this condition have an unusual electrical pathway that makes the heart’s beating faster than usual. An incident may range from just a few minutes to a number of hours. The usual heart rate is from 60 to 100 beats per minute, but an individual with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia can have something as high as 250bpm.

Although not a life-threatening condition, the symptoms of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia can be very uncomfortable. It does not require long-term treatment but medical procedures and treatment may be required in certain cases. This is true when the condition gets in the way of a normal heart function. This disease only takes place periodically.

Risk Factors

Nearly one in 2,500 kids are affected by paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. In infants and newborns, this is the most persistent cause of heart rhythm abnormality. In infants and kids, the most frequent type of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia is Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Adults 65 years and below are more likely to have paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. Atrial fibrillation is more common in adults who are more than 65.

The abnormally fast heart beat in paroxymal supraventricular tachycardia patients is often caused by an extra pathway. This is in addition to the one used by the sinus node in normal hearts.

Paroxymal supraventricular tachycardia is more likely due to some medications. For instance, the heart drug called digitalis can cause incidents if taken in large doses. Other actions that raise the risk of incidents include the intake of cough and allergy medicines, the use of illegal drugs and smoking. In addition, alcohol intake and the consumption of coffee also make episodes more likely to happen.


The symptoms of paroxymal supraventricular tachycardia are similar to anxiety attack symptoms. These include shortness of breath, anxiety and heart palpitations. This condition is also marked by pain or tightness of the chest and a rapid pulse.

Paroxymal supraventricular tachycardia is also marked by fainting and dizziness in more severe cases. The cause is usually the poor flow of blood to the brain. Sometimes the symptoms can be confused with those of heart attack. Go to the emergency room and have yourself checked by a doctor in case of serious chest pain.


The doctor will suspect paroxymal supraventricular tachycardia if your heart rate is super high. An electrocardiogram will be requested to diagnose your condition. The heart will be traced electrically to identify the cause of the fast heart rate. To assess the heart’s structure, movement, and size, an ultrasound or echocardiogram will likely be requested as well.

Patients may be referred to as electrophysiologists. These cardiologists specialize in the heart’s electrical problems. They will conduct an electrophysiology study which involves the use of threading wires to examine the heart’s rhythm. The electrical pathways are checked through a vein in the groin all the way to the heart.

The heart rate will also be monitored for a certain time. This involves the use of a Holter monitor for at least 24 hours. The heart rate will be recorded by a small device to be evaluated by your doctor.

Treatment for Paroxymal Supraventricular Tachycardia

Minimal symptoms usually do not require treatment. However, patients suffering from underlying conditions may need one. The same thing also applies to patients with severe symptoms such as passing out or heart failure.

Doctors may just recommend techniques to normalize the heart rate if the symptoms are not severe. The Valsalva maneuver involves the pinching of the nose while the mouth is closed while exhaling. This will be followed by a straining similar to when attempting to have a bowel movement. The patient will be seated and the body will be bent forward. This maneuver can be done at home and usually works half the time.

Other known techniques to manage paroxymal supraventricular tachycardia include the use of ice water to be splashed on the face and the coughing method wherein the patient is bent forward while seated.

Taking paroxymal supraventricular tachycardia drugs like propafenone and flecainide can ease your heart beat. For a more permanent outcome, radiofrequency catheter ablation is commonly used to treat the condition.

If nonresponsive to any available treatments, a patient may be implanted surgically with a pacemaker to correct the heart rate.

Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia  Statistics

Let us have a look at how prevalent paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia is in the U.S. According to clinical research, this medical condition is a common emergency case. Out of 100,000 cases, around 35 are of this disease. If we are to look at a more generalized point of view, we will find out that about 2 million Americans suffer from either atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation, which are considered to be the most prevalent kinds of this condition. As for the other types of the condition, 10% of patients have atrial tachycardia while around 30% have atrioventricular reentrant tachycardia.

My Two Cents Worth on Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia

Here are some of my two cents worth on paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia to help all patients and their families suffering from this survive the challenges associated with the health condition. First of all, this health condition can be managed especially if it is still in the acute stage and of course as long as we immediately seek help from medical professionals and experts.

Second, once you are diagnosed with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, it is important to get away from the risk factors. One’s alcoholic beverage intake and smoking frequency are to be lessened. A paradigm shift in your daily routines and lifestyle is crucial to reduce the odds for the condition’s recurrence. Lastly, regular consultation and strict adherence to medications and treatment plans are essential to treat it.

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