Supraventricular Tachycardia | Abnormal Heartbeat |MedStar Health

An abnormally fast heartbeat that originates above the ventricles

A normal heart beats 60 to 100 times a minute. If you have supraventricular tachycardia, the electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeats don’t work properly, causing your heart to beat faster than 100 beats a minute. This type of arrhythmia begins in the atria (the heart’s upper chambers) or the AV node (the heart’s electrical system) and can cause the body to not receive enough blood.

Our cardiac electrophysiology program is equipped to manage even the most complex arrhythmias.

What are the types of supraventricular tachycardia?

Supraventricular tachycardia is a broad term that includes several forms of heart rhythm disorders, including:

  • Atrial fibrillation, in which your heart’s two upper chambers do not beat in sync with the two lower chambers

  • Atrial flutter, which occurs when the heart’s top two chambers beat too quickly, and the lower two chambers beat too slowly

  • Atrial tachycardia, a rapid heart rate that occurs in the atria

  • Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, a rapid but regular heart rhythm that starts in the atria

  • Premature atrial contractions (PACs), which are early, extra heartbeats that begin in the atria

These conditions can cause periodic episodes of a rapid or racing heartbeat that last only a few minutes with stretches of normal heart rates in between. You also may feel lightheaded, dizzy or short of breath.


Diagnosing supraventricular tachycardia is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Along with reviewing your medical history and a physical exam, your doctor likely will perform heart-monitoring tests.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Event Monitors

An event monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but where an electrocardiogram takes place over a few minutes, an event monitor measures heart rhythms over a much longer time.

Holter Monitors

A Holter monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram records over a few minutes, a Holter monitor records over the course of a day or two.

Loop Recorder

A loop recorder is a device that’s implanted underneath the skin of your chest to record your heart rhythm for up to three years.


Treatment will depend on the type and severity of your supraventricular tachycardia. In some cases, medication and lifestyle changes may be enough to manage the condition. More advanced treatment options may include electrical devices, minimally invasive procedures, or surgery.

Arrhythmia Treatments (Heart Rhythm)

Treatments for arrhythmias, or heart rhythm disorders, such as minimally invasive procedures, implantable devices and surgery, vary based on the type and severity of your condition.

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