What is paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia?
Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT
) is a rapid heart attack that begins in the heart portion above the ventricle.
"Sudden" means an occasional attack.
Sinus nodes usually send electrical signals to tell the heart muscle when to contract. In PSVT, abnormal electrical pathways make the heart beat faster than normal. Rapid heart rate episodes can last from a few minutes to several hours.
People with PSVT can have a heart rate as high as 250 beats
per minute. The normal rate is 60 to 100 beats
PSVT can cause symptoms of discomfort, but usually is not life-threatening. Most people don't need long-term treatment for PSVT.
In some cases, drugs and procedures may be necessary, especially as PSVT interferes with heart function. Paroxysmal means that it happens only occasionally.
The symptoms of PSVT resemble the symptoms of an anxiety attack and can include:
- heart palpitations
- pain in the chest
- shortness of breath
In more serious cases, PSVT can also cause dizziness
or even fainting
due to a lack of blood flow to the brain.
If your symptoms are mild, or if your heart rate is just occasionally too fast, you may not need treatment.
If your symptoms are not serious, you can do Valsalva maneuvers
under the guidance of your doctor. You should sit and bend forward. Close your mouth and squeeze your nose while trying to exhale and stay tense, as if defecating.
But if your symptoms are severe, you should take medication, such as flecainide
, to help regulate your heart beat.
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