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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 from a few seconds or hours to several days.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • A pounding, racing, or fluttering heartbeat
  • Fatigue, weakness, or shortness of breath
  • Feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or faint.
  • Pain, pressure, or tightness in your chest, neck, jaw, arms, or upper back
  • Nausea
  • Feeling anxious, scared, or worried that something bad may happen

Call 911 for the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
    • Trouble breathing
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have dizziness, lightheadedness, or feel faint.
  • You have sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs.

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.


may depend on what is causing SVT and your symptoms. You may not need treatment for SVT. Instead you may need medicine or other procedures to control your heart rate.

How to manage or prevent SVT:

  • Perform vagal maneuvers as directed when you have symptoms of SVT. Lie down flat and bear down like you are having a bowel movement. Do this for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Do not drink caffeine or alcohol. These can increase your risk for SVT.
  • Keep a record 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 record to follow up visits with your healthcare provider.
  • 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 regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Ask about the best exercise plan for you. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause heart and lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.