Tips for Living With Supraventricular Tachycardia

When you have supraventricular tachycardia, your heart's electrical system sometimes makes it beat faster than normal.

You can have a bout of SVT even when you're not stressed out or exercising hard. When your heart beats too fast, it can't pump out enough blood. You might feel tired, short of breath, or dizzy as a result of this condition that starts in the upper chambers of your heart.

Your doctor can prescribe medicine and other treatments to get your heart back into a regular rhythm. But there are plenty of positive things you can do, too, to keep on track.

Eat Foods That Are Good for You

A well-balanced diet with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein is always smart. With SVT, you might need to be even more careful about what you eat, especially if you're overweight or have other heart conditions.

Ask your doctor how many calories you should get each day to stay at your current weight or drop some pounds. You put an extra strain on your heart if you’re too heavy.

Certain foods might trigger SVT while others are full of minerals that help keep your heart in rhythm. Put potassium and magnesium on your list.

Find potassium in foods such as:

  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupes and honeydew melons
  • Lima beans
  • Oranges
  • Peas
  • Skim and low-fat milk
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Yogurt

All of these foods are high in magnesium:

  • Almonds
  • Avocadoes
  • Black beans
  • Brown rice
  • Peanuts and cashews
  • Spinach

Also, try to cut back on foods and drinks that might trigger a faster heartbeat. They include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine in coffee, chocolate, and some sodas and teas
  • Spicy foods
  • Very cold drinks

Exercise Safely

A fast run or other hard exercise might trigger a bout of SVT in some people. Don't stop exercising, though. It's an important way to keep your heart strong. Just be more careful about fitness.

Check with your doctor to see how much exercise and which types are safest for you. You may need a stress test to find out how much activity you can handle.

Start any new exercise program slowly. Add more time and effort only when your heart is up to it. Learn how to check your pulse while you work out and ask your doctor what to do if your heartbeat kicks into high gear.

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Stress

A really tense day can make your heart rate soar. You can try these things to help you relax:

  • Meditate for 5 to 10 minutes throughout the day. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, and breathe deeply.
  • Take a yoga class.
  • Unwind with a warm bath or listen to soothing music.
  • Get a massage.

Self-Care

Treatment starts with your doctor, but it doesn't end there. You're also a big part of your own “health care team.”

To play that role, you need to know a lot about your condition and how to manage it. Read up on it and ask your doctor to go over anything you don't understand.

Learn what sets off your bouts of SVT. Keep a diary to help you pinpoint your own triggers. Write down when your heart goes out of rhythm and what you were doing at the time.

Avoid:

Manage Your Medicines

Your doctors may have you on medicines called “beta-blockers” or “calcium channel blockers.” They can help keep your heart pumping at the right pace. They work best when you take them just as prescribed -- usually every day.

If you have any questions about the side effects, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Don't skip a dose or stop taking the drug without first checking with your doctor. Also ask whether the drug might interact with any other medicines you take.

Your doctor should set up regular follow-ups. Keep these appointments so that your plan stays on track.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on August 2, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

American College of Cardiology: "Heart Arrhythmias and Exercise;" "Supraventricular Tachycardia;" and "Your Responsibilities."

American Heart Association: "Potassium and High Blood Pressure;" "Prevention and Treatment of Arrhythmia;" and "Tachycardia: Fast Heart Rate."

Mount Sinai Hospital: "Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia."

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: "Magnesium."

Stanford Health Care: "Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)."

Wood, KA. European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, December 2007.

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