A to Z: Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT)
Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) is a type of arrhythmia
(abnormal heart rhythm) in which the heart beats very rapidly (about 160–220
times per minute). PSVT starts in heart
tissue above the ventricles, and occurs in sudden episodes that can last minutes or
More to Know
PSVT can be the result of another heart condition but is most often caused by abnormal
electrical pathways in the heart. It is most common among young people and infants.
In addition to heart palpitations, or feeling like the heart is racing, symptoms
of PSVT may include shortness of breath, anxiety, chest pain, rapid pulse, dizziness,
Smoking and the use of alcohol, caffeine, and drugs increase the risk for PSVT.
To slow down the heartbeat, people with PSVT can try splashing ice water on their
face, coughing while leaning over, and straining as if having a bowel movement (Valsalva
maneuver). If symptoms are severe or the episode lasts more than 20 minutes, emergency
treatment such as drug injections or electrical shock may be necessary.
Long-term solutions for people with recurring PSVT can include a procedure called
cardiac ablation, medications, pacemakers, or even surgery.
Keep in Mind
While PSVT can be scary and uncomfortable, it usually isn't considered dangerous
for people with otherwise healthy hearts.
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