Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia - Treatment

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What is the treatment for paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)?

There is a stepwise approach to treating the rapid heartbeat of PSVT.

Vasovagal maneuvers stimulate the vagus nerve and can slow the heart rate. Some options include holding one's breath and bearing down as if to have a bowel movement or splashing cold water on the face. A care professional might cautiously massage the carotid artery in the neck, but in older patients, there is a risk of stroke and this procedure is usually reserved for younger patients.

Depending upon the heart rhythm, medications can be injected intravenously to reset the AV node or to decrease heart muscle excitability. Adenosine is a short-acting medication that is commonly used as a first-line drug to treat PSVT. Other treatment options for other atrial tachycardias include calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, digoxin, and amiodarone.

If the PSVT does not convert with intravenous medication or if the patient has low blood pressure or complains of chest pain or shortness of breath, cardioversion may be required. This means that an electrical shock is given that resets the heart's electrical system to beat with a regular rate and rhythm.

Return to Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT)

See what others are saying

Comment from: katie, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: January 13

My first episode happened at work about a year and a half ago, I nearly blacked out and was taken to the hospital via ambulance. They couldn't give me any answers, my ECG was abnormal and lab tests were fine. My doctor ordered an event recorder and an echo; I wore the event recorder for 3 weeks and had 70 recorded events of fast rate and 30 or more of rates in the 30s. Being puzzled she sent me to an electro-physiologist and with 3 more types of monitors he gave me a diagnosis of PSVT (paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia). He placed me on Lopressor and flecainide twice a day and I was finally symptom free. Daily episodes are exhausting! I then became pregnant and cannot take the flecainide. The Lopressor helps but I still will have weeks with rates in the 130s to 150s for several hours at a time and it is exhausting! I think after this baby I am going to look into an ablation so I won't have to go through this forever!

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Comment from: gerry, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: April 16

I started having these episodes of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PST) in my early 20s. Over the years I was given medications like valium and Xanax. They were only minimally effective. Also the episodes seemed to start up in the early spring. I discovered, later in life, the thing that help the most were the following: 1.) Cut out sodium from my diet. 2.) Take about 1200 milligrams of potassium per day including bananas. 3.) Take about 300 milligrams of magnesium per day.

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