Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT)

With A Healthy Heart, The Beat Goes On: Understanding PSVT


Tachycardia is a condition in which your heart beats faster than usual even when you are not doing anything. When you have paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), your fast heartbeat begins in the upper, or supraventricular, chambers of your heart. It is a type of arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat which occurs when your heart beats too quickly but in a regular rhythm. A PSVT episode can start and stop abruptly. PSVT is more common in young people, particularly women.

PSVT treatment isn’t always necessary, and the condition isn’t usually fatal. Nonetheless, physicians can treat the symptoms with medications, cardiac procedures, and, in rare cases, a pacemaker implant. There are many Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT) Research Studies near you that are working toward finding potential treatment options for this condition. If you notice any irregularities in your heartbeat, consult your physician. Along with treatment, lifestyle changes can also help reduce the symptoms of this type of fast heart rate.

How Does A Normal Heartbeat Happen?

The sinoatrial node initiates the heartbeat in a normal heart (SA node). The SA node is a small tissue mass located in the atria. It functions as the heart’s pacemaker.

The SA node sends electrical signals to the atria, causing them to contract (pump). The signals are routed to the ventricles via the atrioventricular node (AV node), a small clump of cells in the center of the heart. The electrical impulses that tell the ventricles to contract are carried by the AV node.

What Causes Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT)?

PSVT is an atrial arrhythmia. It occurs when the atria experience abnormal electrical activity. This is caused by an abnormally irritable atrium or a short circuit in your heart, which causes electrical signals to travel in a circular pattern. This causes the atria to contract rapidly and repeatedly.

These abnormal electrical signals can occur when there is an additional pathway connecting the atria and ventricles, either directly or through the AV node. This extra pathway in the heart is found in people with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Your heart beats faster than it should if electrical signals travel faster through the extra (accessory) pathway than through the AV node.

PSVT, like other types of arrhythmias, can be inherited (passed down through families). It may also arise as a result of:

  • Age
  • Anemia
  • Dehydration and exhaustion
  • Caffeine-containing beverages and foods. Foods high in fat, sugar, or carbohydrates can cause heart palpitations after consumption
  • Drugs containing pseudoephedrine, such as nasal decongestants
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • A heart attack or the consequences of a previous heart attack or heart surgery
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
  • Stress and anxiety levels are high
  • Hormonal changes, such as those seen during menopause or pregnancy
  • Obesity and being overweight
  • Tobacco smoking and use of tobacco products
  • Heart valve disease and structural heart problems
  • Thyroid issues, such as hyperthyroidism

What Types of PSVTs are there?

PSVT refers to a wide range of conditions. These can be caused by multiple connections from your heart’s top to bottom chambers, either directly or via the AV node, resulting in tachycardia. In other cases, an irritable focus in your heart’s top chambers could cause tachycardia.

These tachycardia are also known as:

  • Reentrant atrioventricular nodal tachycardia (AVNRT).
  • Orthodromic recurrent tachycardia (ORT).
  • Antidromic reversible tachycardia
  • Atrial Tachycardia
  • Atrial Flutter.

What Symptoms are Associated with PSVT?

PSVT symptoms typically begin and end abruptly. They range in severity from mild to severe. When you exercise, don’t get enough sleep, or are under a lot of stress, you may notice your heart racing. Among the symptoms are:

  • A rapid and consistent heart rate. It is usually more than 100 beats per minute (BPM), but it can be as high as 250 BPM. PSVT children typically have a faster heart rate.
  • Chest, throat, or neck fluttering or pounding (heart palpitations). A strong or forceful pulse may be felt.
  • Unexpected changes in heart rate. Your heart may beat quickly for a few minutes or hours before returning to a normal rhythm. Adults have a normal heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM).

When you have a PSVT episode, you may also have the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety and perplexity
  • Pain, discomfort, or tightness in the chest
  • Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Syncope (fainting) or loss of consciousness
  • Exhaustion or fatigue
  • Nausea

How is Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT) Identified?

After a thorough medical history and examination of a 12-lead electrocardiogram, doctors frequently suspect PSVT (ECG or EKG). However, because PSVT is paroxysmal (occurring on occasion and suddenly), an office ECG may appear normal. To “catch” an episode, your doctor may give you a home ECG monitor that records your heart rhythm over time. These are some examples:

Holter monitor:

It is a portable ECG that you wear for one to seven days to record your heart rhythms over time.

Event monitor:

A one- or two-month portable ECG that records only when triggered by an abnormal heart rhythm or when you manually activate it.

Implantable monitor:

A tiny event monitor inserted beneath your skin and worn for several years to record rare events.

The ultimate PSVT test, however, is an electrophysiological (EP) study. This test not only diagnoses the condition but also pinpoints the exact cause. A diagnostic EP study is always performed before catheter ablation and is usually performed as part of the same procedure. Several narrow, flexible wires are threaded through a vein to your heart while the patient is sedated. Fine wires inside the catheter can help identify any areas outside the sinus node that produce electrical signals, which can then be removed using catheter ablation.

How is Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT) treated?

Valsalva maneuver:

In many patients, bearing down or rubbing the carotid artery can stop a tachycardia episode.


There are various types of medications available, each with its own frequency, side effects, risks, and efficacy. Because the PSVT episode does not resolve on its own, medications would be required for the rest of one’s life.

Catheter ablation:

This is an outpatient procedure used to treat or cure a variety of heart arrhythmias, including PSVT. Catheter ablation is a well-established technique that is both safe and effective. As a result, it is regarded as first-line therapy for PSVT. It is often preferable to proceed directly to catheter ablation rather than first attempting a medication.


A Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT) episode can be worrisome. However, this condition is rarely dangerous or life-threatening. If you have any concerns about your heartbeat, you should see your provider for an evaluation. It’s always a good idea to get a full physical so your doctor can rule out any serious health issues. Although you may not require PSVT treatments, they are available if you do. 

You can lower your risk of PSVT complications by staying active, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, making healthy choices, and seeing your cardiologist regularly. There are various Clinical Research Organizations in Texas near you that might have the option to help you and countless others experiencing this crippling condition. Being self-aware and with the right help, you can fight this condition.

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