What does svt mean?

Have you ever been scrolling through social media only to come across something like “I’m currently in an SVT episode?” and wondered what on earth they are talking about? Fear not my friend, for I am here to give you a rundown on this often perplexing abbreviation.

Breaking down the letters

First things first, let’s break down the letters: S-V-T. It stands for Supraventricular Tachycardia. Now that might sound like some fancy medical jargon, but don’t worry, we’ll dissect it further.


“Supra-” is a prefix that means above or over. So essentially supraventricular refers to any abnormal heart rhythm that originates above the ventricles (lower chambers) of your heart.

Okay cool, now tachy-whaaat?

“Tachy-” is another prefix that means rapid or accelerated. And “-cardia” simply refers to your heart rate.

So when someone says they are experiencing SVT, they are saying their heart is beating too fast due to an abnormality in its electrical system originating from above their ventricles.

Types of SVT

Now there isn’t just one type of SVT – oh no my friends – there are actually several different types! Here’s a brief overview with some fun examples:

  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib) – characterized by irregular rapid heartbeat resembling quivering; think Taylor Swift’s dancing style.
  • Atrial flutter (AFlut) – similar to AFib but more organized; imagine couples ballroom dancing at a retirement home.
  • AV Nodal Re-entrant Tachycardia (AVNRT) – caused by looping pathways within your atrioventricular node; picture cars stuck in traffic doing U-turns to avoid a jam.
  • AV Reciprocating Tachycardia (AVRT) – caused by an extra electrical connection between your atria and ventricles; think two kids playing jump rope with their arms tangled together.

As you can see, SVT comes in all shapes and forms. But don’t worry, they’re not contagious (I hope).

Symptoms of SVT

Now that we know what it is and some examples of the different types of SVT out there, let’s talk about the symptoms one might experience when going through an episode:

  • Palpitations or fluttering feeling in your chest
  • Rapid heartbeat (usually over 100 beats per minute)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or discomfort

But here’s the kicker – not everyone experiences these symptoms! Sometimes people are asymptomatic during an episode. So essentially, it could be happening without you even realizing it. Like a ninja heart attack (sorry, bad joke).

What causes SVT?

Ah yes, this is where things get juicy. The cause(s) for each type can vary but below are some general triggers that may occur:

  • Stress/Anxiety
  • Caffeine/Alcohol intake
  • Medications (e.g. decongestants)
    Pro-tip: If you take any medications regularly make sure to let your doctor know so they can assess whether or not they could be contributing to your episodes.

It’s important to note that sometimes there just isn’t a rhyme or reason for why someone experiences SVT episodes.

Diagnosis & Treatment Options

If someone is experiencing frequent episodes they should seek medical attention but keep in mind: every person’s experience with treatment will differ based on factors such as age and underlying health conditions!

Some common ways doctors diagnose patients include monitoring heart rate with an electrocardiogram (ECG), or through other tests and monitor devices. Treatment can include:

  • Medications – beta blockers, calcium channel blockers
  • Cardioversion – shock to the heart which ‘resets’ it’s rhythm
  • Catheter ablation therapy

It’s important to understand that every individual responds differently so when discussing treatment options with your doctor make sure you’re asking all of your questions!

How serious is SVT?

Now, unfortunately as always there’s a chance things could get serious. It’s rare but in some instances episodes can turn into Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) or Ventricular fibrillation (VF), both of which are life-threatening conditions.

However, it’s key to know that if diagnosed correctly and cared for appropriately, people have typically lived full lives while managing their condition.

Coping strategies

Ah yes, coping mechanisms; who doesn’t love those! Below I’ve compiled a list of handy-dandy (pretend unicorns helped me create this) strategies people employ during an episode:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Splashing cold water on face

And there you have it folks! A thorough breakdown on what SVT stands for including its common types/triggers/symptoms/treatments/coping skills!

So next time someone mentions they’re experiencing an “SVT-episode,” don’t panic—just remember Supraventricular tachycardia…it may even be wise to practice saying that several times correctly for future usage.