Supraventricular Tachycardia

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Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a type of arrhythmia where the heart beats (much) faster than normal. In this type of arrhythmia the heartbeat originates from close to the normal location but it is not controlled by normal feedback loops in the body. SVT may be due to structural cardiac disease such as dilated cardiomyopathy or chronic valvular disease but can also be a primary finding.

Clinical Signs

Supraventricular tachycardia can cause weakness and lethargy. If the SVT is severe enough and is untreated, it can cause the heart muscle to weaken and dilate. If this happens, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation can result.

Diagnosis

Supraventricular Tachycardia can only be definitively diagnosed by an electrocardiogram (ECG).

Treatment

Treatment consists of giving a pet medications to slow down the speed of the arrhythmia as it passes through the rest of the heart. Medications sometimes need to be adjusted until a regimen that keeps the heart rate under control is found. The target heart rate is generally between 100-140 beats per minute. In human medicine, SVT is often treated with radioablation techniques where the arrhythmia is permanently stopped by ablating the bit of tissue that is causing the arrhythmia. This can be done “remotely” with catheters inserted into veins or arteries in the patients limbs.

Prognosis

If the arrhythmia is controllable, the patient can often live a relatively normal life span. However, prognosis always depends on the underlying disease process.

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