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Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)

  • Alternative Names

    PSVT; Supraventricular tachycardia

    • Anxiety
    • Chest tightness
    • Palpitations (a sensation of feeling the heart beat)
    • Rapid pulse
    • Shortness of breath

    Additional symptoms that may be associated with this condition:

    • Dizziness
    • Fainting

    Note: Symptoms may start and stop suddenly, and can last for a few minutes or several hours. A PSVT lasting more than half of the day is considered an incessant PSVT.

    Signs and tests

    A physical examination during a PSVT episode will show a rapid heart rate.

    The heart rate may be 150 to 250 beats per minute (bpm). In children, the heart rate tends to be very high. There may be signs of poor blood circulation such as lightheadedness. Between episodes of PSVT, the heart rate is normal (60 to 100 bpm).

    An ECG during symptoms shows PSVT. An electrophysiology study (EPS) is often necessary for an accurate diagnosis and to recommend the best treatment.

    Because of the sporadic nature of the PSVT, its diagnosis may require 24-hour Holter monitoring. For longer recording periods, a "loop recorder" (with computer memory) is used.