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Supraventricular Tachycardia (cont.)

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)
  • Cough multiple times
  • 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.
  • Quit smoking, or better, never start! Avoid second-hand smoke from others.
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake because it often is a stimulation source for PSVT.
  • Avoid illicit drug use. Most (for example, cocaine, amphetamines) stimulate the heart.
  • Weight control and, for many, weight reduction is helpful. Obesity makes the heart work much harder.
  • Work toward a lifestyle change. Eat a diet low in fat, cholesterol, and salt; eat lots of vegetables.
  • Cut back on excessive alcohol use (moderate use is considered 1-2 drinks per day, depending on the weight and sex of the person).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/5/2014

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Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia »

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), a common clinical condition, is any tachyarrhythmia that requires only atrial and/or atrioventricular (AV) nodal tissue for its initiation and maintenance.

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