Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) - Instructions
Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia, or SVT for short, is an abnormal heart rhythm in which the heart beats at a fast rate, usually between 200 and 320 beats per minute in young children and 160 to 200 beats per minute in teenagers. This is a common problem, and is not usually dangerous unless the rate is very high or the fast rate continues for a very long period of time. In addition, the rate is usually the same every time for each individual child.
The symptoms of SVT depend a lot on the age of the child, but usually only involve a feeling of a “racing heart” (palpitations), nausea and/or chest pain. Symptoms which are more concerning include:
If any of these signs or symptoms occur, contact your physician immediately.
There are several ways to convert an episode of SVT back to normal heart rhythm. Methods you can use at home include “tricks” called “vagal maneuvers”, because they increase the activity of the vagus nerve. These include:
Some maneuvers used in the past have since been shown to be dangerous and are no longer used. Please limit yourself to the maneuvers listed above.
If vagal maneuvers fail to convert the rhythm, and the episode continues for more than a half an hour or any of the concerning signs or symptoms occur, it is appropriate to call your physician or go to an emergency room.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions about your child’s heart.