I used to live in constant fear of
my PSVT episodes

Now I know I can outsmart PSVT

I used to live in constant fear
of my PSVT episodes.

Now I know I can outsmart PSVT.

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Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) is a type of rapid heartbeat that starts and stops without warning. Whether you suspect you have it, or have been diagnosed and are seeking information on how to manage it, you’ve come to the right place. Here, you’ll find tips to help you outsmart PSVT.

Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) is a type of rapid heartbeat that starts and stops without warning. Whether you suspect you have it, or have been diagnosed and are seeking information on how to manage it, you’ve come to the right place. Here, you’ll find tips to help you outsmart PSVT.

“It felt like my heart was about to jump out of my chest.”

Person living with PSVT

LEARN

Suspect you have PSVT?

Learn the signs and symptoms of PSVT and talk with your doctor to see if he or she thinks you have PSVT. It’s not uncommon for PSVT to be misdiagnosed as panic, anxiety, or stress, so don’t be discouraged if you feel like your condition is being dismissed. Seek out multiple opinions and prepare yourself for your next health care visit. Your general practitioner, a cardiologist, or an electrophysiologist are the right partners to help you outsmart PSVT.

Remember, everyone’s experience is unique, but most people typically have one or several of these symptoms.

  • Rapid pulse
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Sudden onset of fatigue

OUTSMART PSVT

before you’re diagnosed

  • Learn how to take your pulse

    by asking your doctor about normal heart rate ranges and the best way to measure yours. Keep a record of changes in your pulse.
  • Track other symptoms

    beyond pulse, so you can discuss them with your doctor at your next health care visit.
  • Enlist a driver who can be on-call

    to take you to the emergency department during an episode. One in four individuals experiencing episodes visit the emergency department or hospital at least once a year. PSVT may be temporarily debilitating, so it is best not to drive yourself.
  • Map your drive to the emergency department or hospital

    either by programming it into your phone or having it on paper. You want directions within reach for whomever will be driving.

“I have a better understanding of what’s going on now that I have a PSVT diagnosis. I know it’s not in my head.”

Person living with PSVT

CONNECT

Recently Diagnosed with PSVT?

Receiving a diagnosis of PSVT can be overwhelming, but it is important to recognize there are a range of treatment choices, resources, and information to help you understand your options and actively manage your condition. Here are steps you can take right now to be better prepared for an episode.

OUTSMART PSVT

upon diagnosis

  • Connect with a cardiologist or electrophysiologist

    to discuss a treatment plan. You may need to find a hospital or cardiac treatment center that has experience helping people with PSVT.
  • Talk to family and friends

    so that those close to you know you have this condition and how they can support you during and between episodes.
  • Vagal maneuvers

    are simple measures that may slow your heart rate, such as holding your breath, splashing cold water (or a cold towel) on your face, coughing, or bearing down. Ask your doctor whether vagal maneuvers are appropriate for you.
  • Avoid possible triggers

    that you suspect are bringing on your PSVT episodes. Common triggers include alcohol, caffeine, smoking, illicit drug use, as well as vigorous physical activity and high stress.
  • Get a medical alert bracelet

    with your contact and medical information. Some bracelets have a button you can press that automatically calls your emergency contact.
  • Join the PSVT Place Registry

    to participate in the web’s only interactive portal devoted to helping those living with PSVT better understand their condition. In the future, features may include the ability to track your episodes and learn from other Registry participants.

PSVT Myths

Even though what you describe to your doctor may sound like PSVT, diagnosing PSVT requires your doctor to see your heartbeat during an episode. The abnormal heartbeat can be documented with an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), Holter monitor, or some other device that you can carry around with you. However, because PSVT episodes start and stop without warning, it can be tricky to catch one while it’s happening. Understandably, this may be a cause of frustration and can prolong the time until a definitive diagnosis is made. Be patient and ask your doctor about wearable devices that can monitor for an abnormal heart rhythm.

While panic attacks and PSVT episodes may each cause anxiety and fear, they are not the same. PSVT symptoms are often misdiagnosed as a panic disorder. It is important to receive an accurate diagnosis from a doctor.

For people whose PSVT episodes occur frequently or are severe, a catheter ablation may be an option. This is a medical procedure where a flexible wire is temporarily inserted into an artery or vein in the leg and run into the heart. After positioning the wire directly on top of the abnormal tissue, it is either heated or cooled to an extreme temperature, destroying the short circuit. In most people, catheter ablation may reduce or eliminate future PSVT episodes. In some people, episodes may return even after a catheter ablation. Although the procedure is generally very safe, as with any invasive procedure there are potential complications. It is important to discuss with your doctor what treatment is right for you.

Because PSVT is caused by an electrical “short circuit” that you are born with, there is no lifestyle change that can cure it.

Episodes may be brought on by alcohol, caffeine, smoking, illicit drug use, or vigorous physical activity, although more research is needed to say with certainty. Some people may have fewer episodes by modifying these factors or by reducing stress levels.

Although this condition is something that people are born with, the age when the first episode occurs is different for everybody, with some people experiencing their first episode shortly after birth and others well into adulthood (and even past 80 years of age).

In general, PSVT is not considered to be a life-threatening condition and as such the focus of disease management is on symptoms, which can significantly affect some patients’ quality of life due to the unexpected nature of episodes and the feelings that can occur as the result of a very rapid heartbeat. While there have been reports of death due to PSVT, these have been extremely rare.

PSVT is not normally a precursor to a heart attack, and only in rare circumstances is it life-threatening. PSVT can occur both in healthy individuals and those with previously-existing health conditions. Talk to your doctor about a treatment plan that’s right for you based on your health history.

“I live with PSVT knowing that it could happen at any time, but I’m going to continue to live my life as fully as possible.”

Person living with PSVT

LIVE

Managing PSVT?

When you outsmart PSVT, it goes from being a significant source of anxiety to merely an afterthought. Sure, you have PSVT, but you are equipped with the know-how to rise above anxiety. Check off the suggestions below to lessen the impact of PSVT on your day-to-day life.

OUTSMART PSVT

after diagnosis

  • Schedule checkups with your doctor

    periodically to give you a chance to discuss how your treatment plan is working and any changes in symptoms or episodes.
  • Find a support group

    that is either an online group or an in-person gathering. Finding a community will allow for shared experiences and emotional healing.
  • Consider participating in a clinical trial

    for which you may be eligible. You can search ongoing trials at ClinicalTrials.gov using search terms like paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, PSVT, supraventricular tachycardia, tachycardia or arrhythmia.
  • Keep your health information up-to-date in the PSVT Place Registry

    starting with the baseline survey. Please be sure to update the Registry on a regular basis to report any new symptoms or episodes on a follow-up survey.

REFERENCES

1Milestone Pharmaceuticals data on file: Primary research interviews conducted by The Planning Shop International, 2014, N=49 patients.

2Al-Zaiti, S.S. Crit Care Nurs Clin North Am. 2016;28(3): 309-316.

3Milestone Pharmaceuticals data on file: Primary research interviews conducted by the Planning Shop International, 2014, N=49 patients; Primary research interviews conducted by Triangle Insights Group, May/June 2017, N=44 physicians, 20 patients, and 14 payers.

4Milestone Pharmaceuticals data on file: Primary research interviews conducted by Triangle Insights Group, May/June 2017, N=44 physicians, 20 patients, and 14 payers.

5PubMed Health. Arrhythmia: Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia. 2014.