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Supraventricular Tachycardia


Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a condition that causes your heart to beat much faster than it should. SVT is a type of abnormal heart rhythm, called an arrhythmia, that starts in the upper part of your heart. It may last a few seconds or hours to several days. In most cases SVT is not life-threatening, but it should be treated or prevented.



  • Medicines can help control your heart rate and rhythm. You may need more than one medicine to treat your symptoms.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

How to manage or prevent SVT:

  • Keep a diary of your symptoms. Write down what you ate or what you were doing before an episode of SVT. Also write down anything you did to make the SVT stop. Bring your diary to follow up visits with your healthcare provider.
  • Manage other health conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems, or high blood pressure.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Replace butter and margarine with heart-healthy oils such as olive oil and canola oil.
  • Exercise and maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight. Also, ask about the best exercise plan for you.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol. These can increase your risk for SVT. Ask your healthcare provider how much alcohol is safe for you.
  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information if you need help quitting.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms get worse, or you have new symptoms.
  • You have swelling in your ankles or feet.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Chest pain, tightness, or pressure that lasts more than 1 to 2 minutes. The discomfort may spread to your shoulders, arms, jaw, neck, or back. The discomfort may be a burning that feels like heartburn.
  • You have sudden shortness of breath
  • You have dizziness, lightheadedness, or faint.
  • You have sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.