Supraventricular Tachycardia Is A Group Of Health Conditions That Cause Irregular Heartbeats. Learn More About Their Causes And Treatment.
What Is Supraventricular Tachycardia?
Tachycardia is an above average heart rate. This condition causes your heart to beat faster than normal, more than 100 beats per minute. The heartbeat begins in the upper chambers, also known as the atria, when the electrical signals fire too early.
This causes the atria to contract too soon, which interrupts the signal to the ventricles, or the lower chambers. This leads to an abnormal heart rhythm, since the heart must beat through a separate pathway.
Types Of Tachycardia
There are three types of this heart condition, with the side effects ranging in severity. While they are usually mild, they can also become life threatening.
Atrioventricular Nodal Reentrant Tachycardia
This is the most common form of ventricular tachycardia. It is caused by an extra pathway in your heart which leads to the electrical signal circling around instead of moving down to the ventricles as it should. This circling creates extra beats that lead to a fast heart rate.
Atrioventricular Reciprocating Tachycardia
This happens when your heart has an abnormal pathway that links the atria and ventricles, making the electrical signal move around in a loop. If you have the genetic condition Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, your heart contains this extra pathway. This condition can be serious.
When the loop occurs, the signal causes multiple heartbeats instead of just the one. Each signal is meant to cause one beat, but with this condition, the signal gets stuck and leads to multiple beats.
This is caused by a short circuit in either the left or right atrium, triggering a faulty electrical signal. Normally, the sinoatrial node, or SA node, is the only place that creates the electrical signals that cause your heart to beat. But with this condition, there is an extra area in your atria that is firing these signals, leading to an irregular heartbeat.
Risk Factors For Tachycardia
There are many things that can trigger tachycardia. Some common risk factors include too much caffeine or alcohol, medications and stimulants (such as digoxin, theophylline, over-the-counter cold medications, diet pills, and illegal drugs including cocaine, MDMA, and meth).
Other risk factors are feeling tired or stressed, smoking cigarettes, heart surgery, and exercise. Although working out generally keeps your heart healthy, over-exerting yourself can lead to adverse effects. Make sure you are staying within your limits when exercising.
Symptoms Of Supraventricular Tachycardia
Supraventricular Tachycardia, also referred to as SVT, has several symptoms. They are usually pretty mild but can be troublesome if episodes of SVT occur frequently or last longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Tachycardia symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, chest pain, breathing problems, and feeling tired. Other symptoms can also occur, such as dizziness or lightheadedness, sweating, pounding in your neck, tightness in your throat, or possibly even fainting.
Although most of these symptoms are mild, you should see a doctor if they occur frequently, last longer than average, or if you faint. If these symptoms occur too often or too long, they can weaken your heart muscle and possibly lead to heart disease or heart failure, so it’s crucial to let your doctor know before it gets to that point.
Additionally, since an irregular heartbeat prevents adequate blood flow, clots may form inside of your heart. If these clots travel to your brain, it can cause serious side effects such as a stroke. If you feel any symptoms, talk to your doctor and find out the best treatment plan for you.
How To Treat Tachycardia
Tachycardia can be treated with a variety of methods. A common option is for your doctor to prescribe blood thinners in order to prevent the chance of clots forming. While this lowers your risk of strokes, it also means that your blood will have to get tested frequently to ensure that it’s not too thin, and avoid minor injuries such as cuts and scrapes. Doctors might also provide other medicines such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers to lower your heart rate.
For more serious symptoms of ventricular arrhythmias, you may need to undergo ventricular fibrillation, where a doctor uses patches or paddles to provide a shock to your heart that resets its rhythm. If none of these treatments work, you might have to go through a procedure called ablation, where the doctors destroy the tissue that causes your irregular heartbeat. After this procedure, it’s possible you may require a pacemaker. The last resort of treatment is heart surgery.
How CVG Can Help
CVG offers multiple services that can provide help with your tachycardia. At CVG, we perform stress tests that will observe blood flow and test for Atrial Fibrillation. There are three types of stress tests that we perform:
A treadmill test is a test in which you will walk on a treadmill that gets faster and steeper every 3 minutes. This will stress your heart so that our nurse or doctor can determine your EKG and blood pressure.
An echo test is performed before and after your treadmill test to determine how well your heart pumps blood.
A nuclear stress test is a treadmill test that is prefaced by an injection of medicine that shows the flow of blood to your heart.
If these tests determine a problem, we offer treatment solutions such as atrial fibrillation testing and catheter ablation. Learn more about our services here, or schedule an appointment to talk to our doctors.