Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT, PSVT) Self-Care at Home
In most people, PSVT is not dangerous. Mild arrhythmias, such as isolated premature beats, may require no treatment. A few people, however, may have arrhythmias that become dangerous and require immediate and, perhaps, prolonged treatment.
When a person first develops symptoms of PSVT, they can attempt the following simple maneuvers, called vagal maneuvers (stimulates vagal nerve to slow the heart rate), to assist the body in slowing the heart rate:
Hold the breath for about 20-60 seconds
Quickly dip the entire face in cold water (sink or large open container)
Tense the stomach muscles as if the patient was bearing down to have a bowel movement
If these vagal maneuvers do not work, lie down and relax. Take some slow, deep breaths. Often, the heart will slow by itself.
If the symptoms continue, get immediate transport to a hospital. If a person has frequent episodes of rapid heartbeat, they should be evaluated by a medical professional even if the episodes spontaneously resolve.
The following lifestyle choices may help many people prevent PSVT from occurring and to monitor their body responses.
Learn how to count the pulse (heartbeat). Then determine if the pulse is regular or irregular. People should ask a health care professional or nurse to teach them how to count the pulse on themselves and other people. In adults, the pulse should be between 50-100 per minute and regular.
Check with a health care professional before taking any over-the-counter (OTC) cough, cold, or pain medicines, especially if the person has hypertension or has had episodes of PSVT.
Exercise regularly. Exercise makes the heart stronger and more efficient and lowers the blood pressure and heart rate.
Learn to relax to control stress. Some relaxation techniques include muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, and biofeedback.
Control other illnesses by complying with the doctor's recommendations for medications and lifestyle changes.