The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people. Travel, family gatherings, reminders of personal loss and much more can lead to high stress and anxiety levels, excessive eating and excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine. Over time, these stressors can lead to health issues such as heart arrhythmias, which impact millions of people in the U.S. today.
One of the most common types of heart arrhythmias is paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), commonly referred to as SVT. About 2 million Americans are living with SVT or PSVT, with approximately 300,000 new patients diagnosed each year. While anyone can develop SVT, it’s more common among women than men, accounting for 65% of SVT diagnoses.
Symptoms and diagnosis
A normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. However, people with SVT have debilitating and sudden episodes of extremely rapid heart rate, often exceeding 150 to 200 beats per minute. These attacks can start and stop without warning and last from seconds to hours.
Symptoms of SVT can be scary for patients and those who care about them. Rapid heart rate associated with SVT often causes severe palpitations, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, dizziness, lightheadedness and distress. SVT symptoms often force patients to limit their daily activities, impacting their quality of life.
Diagnosing SVT can be frustrating. For some patients, it can take years to be diagnosed, which can breed doubt of the health care system and no treatment plan. Also, there is a significant unmet need for patients experiencing the physical, emotional and psychological burden of highly symptomatic episodic attacks associated with SVT.
Taking care of your heart health
While there’s no way to completely prevent symptomatic SVT episodes, you can take steps to manage your heart condition. During the holiday season and to kick off the new year in good heart health, it is important to consider the following tips from Dr. James Ip, cardiologist at a premier medical institution in NYC, to help manage potential heart arrhythmias, including SVT.
- If you experience any severe chest pain, shortness of breath, light-headedness or fainting, call 911 and/or seek emergency assistance.
- If you are not in distress, lay down and try to stop the arrhythmia yourself by performing a breathing exercise or vagal maneuver such as the Valsalva maneuver (bearing down like forcing a bowel movement) or splashing cold water on your face. If this does not work, seek medical care if your symptoms persist.
- Consider obtaining a device that can generate an electrocardiogram (ECG) (such as a KardiaMobile, Apple Watch, Fitbit, Samsung Galaxy Watch, etc.) to record your rhythm during your tachycardia episodes and share this information with your doctor.
Talk to your doctor about treatment options
Medical providers are displeased by the lack of effective treatment options for SVT. Today, treatment often requires a prolonged, unpleasant and costly trip to the emergency room. For some patients, an invasive catheter ablation procedure may be required that may not alleviate all episodes. Therefore, the medical community understands there is a need to identify a potential novel treatment approach.
Take proactive steps to protect your heart health during the holidays and beyond. If you believe you’re experiencing SVT or similar cardiovascular symptoms, talk to your doctor about your concerns and potential treatment options. To learn more about SVT, visit OutsmartPSVT.com.