What is supraventricular tachycardia?

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Supraventricular tachycardia is described as a rapid heart rate that originates in the upper heart chambers. It is important to note that the electrical signals in the upper chambers of the heart send out signals erratically which disrupts with the electrical signals from the sinoatrial (SA) node or natural pacemaker of the heart.

A series of premature beats in the atria speeds up the heart rate. This rapid heartbeat does not provide enough time for the heart to fill before it contracts so the blood flow to the entire body is disrupted.

Who are at risk?

Many individuals do not require medical treatment. If the episodes are significantly prolonged or occur frequently, treatment is required.
  • Among children, supraventricular tachycardia is the most common form of arrhythmia.
  • Young individuals who are chronically anxious
  • Women are more affected than men
  • Those who are physically exhausted
  • Heavy smokers
  • Individuals who excessively consume alcoholic beverages
  • Those who consumed excessive amounts of coffee or other caffeinated beverages


It is important to note that some individuals do not have any symptoms. In case symptoms arise, the following might be present:

  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Chest pain, tightness or pressure

In severe cases, it can cause loss of consciousness and even cardiac arrest.


Many individuals do not require medical treatment. If the episodes are significantly prolonged or occur frequently, treatment is required. The doctor might recommend the following:

  • Carotid sinus massage – this involves the application of gentle pressure on the neck where the carotid artery divides into 2 branches.
  • The doctor gently presses on the eyeballs with the eyes closed
  • Valsalva maneuver – this involves holding the nostrils shut while blowing air via the nose.
  • Dive reflex – this is the bodily response to abrupt dipping in water particularly cold water
  • Sedation
  • Reducing the intake of coffee or other caffeinated substances
  • Adequate rest
  • Limiting the intake of alcohol and tobacco usage
  • Among individuals diagnosed with Wolfe-Parkinson-White syndrome, certain medications or even ablation might be required to control the condition

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