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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - SupraVentricular Tachycardia


These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An indi vidual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

[posted 08/15/2000]
Question: I am 23 years old and have been taking Atenolol 25mg a day since September of 1997, when I was diagnosed with SVT. I had a episode early in the summer of 1997 which resulted in a trip to the hospital and noted high blood pressure and a pulse rate nearly 200. I was not put on medication then, and my blood pressure went back down by itself as did my heart rate. Then in September of 1997 it happend again, and I was put on Atenolol. It felt more like a panic attack, or maybe just the feeling of impending doom made me feel like that. I am not a drug user or anything, and my symptoms just came upon me while I was watching TV. Since then I have not had an episode. Am I going to take this medication for the rest of my life? Taking Atenolol gives me piece of mind thinking that this medication will stop another SVT attack, but I am not really sure what the long term affects are. Could you give me some information on the long term affects and if you think it was just a panic attack. Thank you.

Answer: Hard to know if it was panic or not, but certainly sounds like typical SVT symptoms. If atenolol works, then I'd stay on it, the other option is to see an electrophysiologist and have the abnormal pathway identified and ablated(destroyed). This usually would eliminate any further need for medications. There do not appear to be any long term side effects of beta blockers that differ from the short term ones(see the faqs).

[posted 04/26/2000]
Question: I am a 33 yr old female who experienced PSVT during both pregnancies. I had several EKGs, wore a holter monitor and event monitor and this was the diagnosis. They did a color wave (soem type of EKG I believe) to rule out White Parkinson Syndrome, and it was indeed ruled out. Since changing jobs and the birth of my last chiild 6-99, I have had no recurrences of PSVT.

I am scheduled for breast augmenation May 26, 2000 and am concerned b/c I've never "been under" and want to know if there is any added risk with this PSVT history. I've heard some people have to take certain medications prior to surgery if they have certain illnesses, etc. Is this something I should be concerned about? I was never put on any medications during my episodes to treat this PSVT.

Thank you in advance for your comments.

Answer: Sure, but it's usually easily broken if it occurs during surgery and most mds would not recommmend any medical pre-treatment.

[posted 08/31/1999]
Question: I am 30 years old and about a year ago I was diagnosed with SVT. I dont know exactly what it is and would like to know some more information on it. Is it more serious than Ventricular Tachycardia or is it the same? Will it decrease my life span? Is it very dangerous to my health to have this? I am currantly taking Atenolal which my doctor said I will continue to take the rest of my life. Since I started taking this medication I seem to have very litle short term memory. Is that due to the drug? My doctor did say there were quite a few side effects. I would ask him but I no longer have medical insurance and can not afford to go see him. Please give all the information you bhave on this subject because having something that I know nothing about really scares me. I want to be aroud a long time for my children. Thank you very much.

Answer: SVT is due to rapid electrical impulses being conducted from the upper chambers(the atria) to the lower chambers (ventricles). This orders the ventricles to pump/fire rapidly and they do what they are told to do. It is rarely life threatening but, can be disabling depending on your symptoms with the tachycardia. Beta blockers are the first choice followed by calcium channel blockers. This problem can often be corrected by an electrophysiologist. They perform a procedure whereby a catheter is introduced into the heart, the area responsible for the tachycardia is stimulated and found, subsequently the area is bombarded by radio frequency waves from the catheter changing the SVT. There are risks and it is expensive, but usually curative 80-90% of the time.

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