Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT) (cont.)

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What are the symptoms of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)?

PSVT often presents with the complaints of palpitations described as a rapid heart rate. There can also be a fullness in the throat that is associated with the rapid heartbeat. Other symptoms include the following:

The symptoms of PSVT usually occur while the heart is beating quickly but the fatigue can persist after the heartbeat returns to normal. By its nature, PSVT is intermittent and its onset cannot be predicted. As well, once the heart starts to beat quickly, there is no way of predicting if and when it will return to normal rhythm on its own. Some patients are unaware that their heart is beating quickly and PSVT is found only when the patient presents for care and is found to have a rapid heartbeat.

How is paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) diagnosed?

The diagnosis of PSVT is based upon interpretation of the heart rate monitor and electrocardiogram. Sometimes the diagnosis is difficult because the rapid heart rate resolves before the patient presents for medical care. In these cases, where there is a recurrent pattern of palpitations, the care professional may suggest monitoring the patient's heart rate and rhythm as an outpatient. A Holter monitor is a small device that can be worn for 24 or 48 hours that records every heartbeat and may give a clue as to the underlying cause of the palpitations. A 30-day event monitor may also be considered, which gives a longer window to detect the rhythm. Again, a small monitor is worn, but with this device the patient triggers the recording when the palpitations begin. In some cases, specialized electrophysiology tests may be necessary to monitor the heart and try to reproduce abnormal rhythms.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/23/2013

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