Woman holding hand on her chest - supraventricular tachycardia

Supraventricular tachycardia

What is supraventricular tachycardia?

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a type of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) where the heart will typically beat too fast.

Supraventricular means ‘above the ventricles’ as SVT starts in the upper heart chambers (atria) which are located above the ventricles.

A normal resting heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. During SVT, the heart rate can reach up to 220 beats per minute. This increased heart rate can last anywhere from minutes to days.

What are the symptoms of supraventricular tachycardia?

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) can come and go and symptoms may not always be noticeable.

When they occur, symptoms may include:

What causes supraventricular tachycardia?

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is caused by an issue with the heart’s electrical signals.

While SVT can occur randomly, in some individuals it can be triggered by:

How is supraventricular tachycardia diagnosed?

Your doctor will likely perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check your heart’s rhythm.

A 24 or 48 hour Holter monitor or an event monitor can also be used to record the rhythm over a longer period of time to increase the likelihood of identifying any occurrences of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).

Other tests for SVT may include:

How is supraventricular tachycardia treated?

Most people with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) will not require treatment, however lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, getting enough sleep, stress management etc) may help to reduce symptoms.

If treatment is required for SVT, this may include:

How can supraventricular tachycardia be prevented?

Lifestyle changes may help to manage triggers associated with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).

This may include:

If you are on any medication or other treatment for SVT it is important to take them as advised to ensure the condition is properly managed.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years