Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT)

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI
    Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI

    Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI

    Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and a fellowship in the section of cardiology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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How can paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) be prevented?

PSVT can result because of underlying medical conditions or because of foods and medications that are ingested. Caffeine, alcohol, and over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine can stimulate and irritate the heart's electrical conduction system and precipitate an episode of PSVT. Decreasing or avoiding use of these chemicals completely may prevent PSVT. Electrolytes abnormalities can cause heart electrical irritability. Abnormal thyroid levels can also precipitate abnormal heart rhythms.

Medications can be used to minimize the recurrence of PSVT, including calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, or other antiarrhythmic medications.

If PSVT continues to recur, an electrophysiologic study (EPS) can be done by a cardiologist and the electrical system of the heart can be mapped. If abnormal tracts or short circuits are found, they can be ablated or destroyed with high frequency radio waves and hopefully, prevent future episodes of PSVT. This is often a highly effective modality for patients with recurrent episodes who don't wish to have to take long-term medication.

Medically reviewed by Robert J. Bryg, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Cardiovascular Disease


Tintinalli, Judith E., et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th edition. McGraw-Hill Education, 2011.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/14/2016

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