of common SVT terms

Knowing the lingo of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), may help you when you have heart-to-heart conversations. Below, you’ll find definitions for words you may commonly hear about SVT.

Anti-arrhythmic drugs (AADs)

Medications that act by slowing down the electrical conduction in the heart

Atrioventricular (AV) node

A bundle of cells that coordinates the beating of the heart by controlling how the heart’s electrical signals travel from the upper to lower chambers of the heart

Atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT)

The most common form of SVT. In AVNRT, the AV node is split into two and electrical impulses travel down one side of the AV node and then back up the other, creating a fast heartbeat over 100 beats per minute

Atrioventricular reentrant tachycardia (AVRT)

The second most common form of SVT. In AVRT, a fast heartbeat is caused by an extra connection that directly connects the upper and lower chambers. Electrical signals during this form of SVT typically travel from the upper and lower chambers then back to the upper chambers over the short circuit, leading to a rapid heartbeat

Beta blockers

Medications typically used to help prevent SVT episodes because they can slow electrical conduction through the AV node

Calcium channel blocker (CCB)

A medication class used to treat many cardiovascular indications, including SVT, by decreasing the amount of work the heart has to do

Cardiac monitoring system (CMS)

A device that records the electrical activity of the heart. Generally, it records heart rate and rhythm but may have additional features


A procedure in a hospital or clinic where electrodes are placed on the chest and an electrical current is sent to the heart to reset the rhythm back to normal

Catheter ablation

A procedure in which a doctor guides a long flexible tube (or catheter) in your artery or vein to the heart. The catheter delivers extreme heat or cold to destroy the heart tissue that is causing an abnormal rhythm

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)

A recording of the electrical activity of the heart. An EKG/ECG records the signal associated with each heartbeat

Holter monitor

A small, portable device with sticky electrodes, or tabs, that are connected to the chest to continuously record the EKG/ECG over several days

Heart rate (HR)

The number of times the heart beats per minute, which can be affected by many factors. For example, one’s heart rate may get faster when exercising or when excited. The heart rate can get slower when one feels rested and calm, or with certain medications

Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)

Your healthcare provider may refer to SVT as PSVT. The two terms mean the same thing. “Paroxysmal” means that an episode begins suddenly and can happen repeatedly.

Sinus rhythm (SR)

The heart’s normal pattern of electrical activity, starting from the top right chamber and then spreading to the other chambers

Sinoatrial (SA) node

The heart’s natural pacemaker

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)

Heart condition that leads to episodes of a fast, regular heartbeat that starts and stops without warning. Your healthcare provider may refer to SVT as PSVT, or paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. The two terms mean the same thing.

Vagal maneuvers

Simple things an individual can do that may slow heart rate and stop an episode of SVT. Vagal maneuvers are not right for everyone and should only be performed if advised by your doctor


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