Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia -- try saying that fast three times! Actually, I’m not certain I can say this tongue twister more than once without my tongue tripping over the syllables.
Of course, what I really want to know is whether or not paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, or PSVT, is a serious condition and what I can expect if I’ve been newly diagnosed.
PSVT might be easier to understand if we break it down into its individual parts:
• P, or Paroxysmal. Paroxysmal means that something occurs suddenly or from time to time. In other words, PVST is not symptomatic all the time.
• S, or Supra. Supra is an adjective which means above or over. In this case, supra means over or above the ventricles.
• V, or Ventricular. The heart is divided into two areas: the atria or upper heart chambers, and the ventricles or lower heart chambers. Ventricular in this case means the ventricles or the lower heart chambers.
• T or Tachycardia. Tachycardia is a condition where the heart beats more rapidly than normal. For most adults, a normal resting heartbeat is 60-100 beats per minute. A heart in tachycardia may beat as high as 150 to 250 beats per minute. Children’s hearts in PSVT may beat even higher.
Combine all together and PSVT simply means that from time to time you have a heartbeat that is more rapid than normal, and this heart malfunction if you will, begins in the above the ventricles in the upper chamber of the heart. When you put it this way, it sounds fairly simple doesn’t it?
Imagine for a moment that your heart is a traffic light. As long as all the controlling electrical signals are properly sent and received, the traffic light functions properly and all is well. However, we all know the chaos that ensures when the signals are not sent or interpreted in the right manner.
Your heart functions in much the same way. As long as the upper and lower
chambers of the heart work together in harmony, all is well. In the case of PSVT, the sinoatrial node, or SA node, tells the atria or upper heart chambers to contract.