Supraventricular tachycardia is usually treated if:
- You have symptoms such as dizziness, chest
pain, or fainting (syncope) that are caused by your fast heart
- Your episodes of fast heart rate are occurring more
frequently or do not revert to normal on their own.
Treatment for sudden-onset (acute) episodes
supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) start suddenly and
cause symptoms, you can try
vagal maneuvers-such as gagging, holding your breath and bearing down (Valsalva maneuver), immersing your face in ice-cold
water (diving reflex), or coughing. These
simple maneuvers stimulate the vagus nerve, which can slow conduction of
electrical impulses that control your heart rate. Your doctor will teach you
how to perform vagal maneuvers safely.
Your doctor may also
prescribe a short-acting medicine that you can take by mouth if vagal maneuvers
don't work. This allows some people to manage their SVT without having to visit
the emergency room repeatedly.
If your heart rate cannot be slowed
using vagal maneuvers, you may have to go to your doctor's office or the
emergency room, where a fast-acting medicine such as adenosine or verapamil can
be given. If the arrhythmia does not stop and symptoms are severe,
electrical cardioversion, which uses an electrical
current to reset the heart rhythm, may be needed.
Ongoing treatment of recurring supraventricular tachycardia
If you have recurring episodes of
supraventricular tachycardia, you may need to take
medicines, either on an as-needed basis or daily. Medicine treatment typically
calcium channel blockers, other
antiarrhythmic medicines, or
digoxin. In people who have frequent episodes, treatment
with medicines can decrease recurrences. But these medicines may have side
Many people with supraventricular tachycardia have a
catheter ablation, which blocks abnormal electric
impulses and can eliminate supraventricular tachycardia and the need to take
medicines. But this procedure has risks, such as bleeding and
injury to the heart. You must balance your feelings about taking medicine for
the rest of your life with having an invasive procedure. Also, catheter
ablation is not available everywhere and is best performed in a medical center
that has staff experienced with this complicated procedure.
- Heart Problems: Should I Have Catheter Ablation?
Treatment for atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT)
In the case of
atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT),
medicines can be taken-either daily or only when the fast heartbeat arises-or
catheter ablation may be done.
If you have infrequent episodes of
AVNRT that last hours but do not cause severe symptoms, your doctor may
recommend that you take medicines only when you have an episode. These
calcium channel blockers, and
Your doctors may recommend
daily doses of calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, and/or digoxin if you
have frequent episodes of AVNRT. If these medicines are not effective in
supraventricular tachycardia from recurring, your
doctor may recommend that you take an antiarrhythmic medicine.