Our experienced electrophysiology team treats the full spectrum of arrhythmias, including paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT).

PSVT is an arrhythmia marked by sporadic periods of rapid heart rate that begin and end suddenly. It starts in the heart’s top chambers (atria).

While PSVT usually does not threaten your life if you have it, it can lead to congestive heart failure or angina if you have other heart problems.

PSVT is caused by extra electrical pathways between the heart’s upper chambers (atria) and lower chambers (ventricles). There are several factors that can increase your risk for developing the condition:

  • Certain heart medications
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Smoking
  • Recreational drugs

PSVT Symptoms

Symptoms of PSVT can last several minutes or hours and include:

  • Palpitations, a sensation that you can feel your heart beating rapidly or erratically
  • Anxiety
  • Chest tightness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

Our heart specialists have years of experience diagnosing PSVT and other heart rhythm problems. We give you the accurate diagnosis you need so you can begin treatment. Learn more about cardiac diagnosis.

PSVT Treatment

If you do not have other heart problems, PSVT might not need treatment if it only occurs once in awhile and does not cause symptoms. Others can manage it by reducing their risk factors or by using techniques such as breath holding, coughing or splashing their faces with ice water.

But sometimes PSVT is severe enough that patients need emergency treatment. We can prevent that with:

  • Medications: While the condition is often difficult to control with medications, our doctors will consider this interim step.
  • Cardioversion: A mild shock(s) is given externally during an outpatient treatment to reset the heart’s rhythm. Learn more about cardioversion.
  • Pacemakers: Pacemakers are sometimes used in children when other therapies do not work. Learn more about ICDs and pacemakers.
  • Catheter ablation: PSVT is often curable with a procedure to destroy abnormal heart cells and block erratic signaling. Learn more about catheter ablation.
  • CryoMaze ablation: Another option for ablation is freezing the cells during surgery, often performed to treat a different heart condition. Learn more about CryoMaze ablation.

PSVT and Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome

Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is characterized by an extra electrical pathway, which can trigger PSVT. The condition is one of the most common causes of rapid heart rate problems in infants and children.

Most patients with the syndrome do not have any other heart problems. The syndrome does not necessarily cause symptoms, and may only ever trigger a few episodes. Others may experience problems at least once or twice a week.