Palpitations due to a fast rhythm from the upper chambers of the heart
Palpitations due to a fast rhythm from the upper chambers of the heart is known as supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).
Supraventricular tachycardia is seldom fatal and can often be terminated easily in a cardiac care set up. Sometimes it can be terminated even without medications by a cough, strain or a gag reflex or a splash of ice cold water over the face as well. Another method which emergency personal use to terminate the episode is by giving a pressure over the carotid sinus in the neck. But this should not be attempted by a lay person as it has its own risks. Carotid sinus massage should be done carefully, with ECG monitoring in an emergency care set up. If the disorder is left untreated for a long period,it can cause weakening of the heart muscle causing a fall in blood pressure and heart failure. Recurrence can be prevented by medications taken on a long term basis. Some with very infrequent episodes also opt for a “pill in the pocket” approach by taking a tablet as soon as the symptom occurs. Definitive treatment these days is in the form of identification of the site by cardiac electrophysiology studies and radio frequency catheter ablation. In this procedure, small multi electrode catheters are introduced into the heart, monitoring the electrical signal from each location. One the exact site of the abnormality is localized, a radiofrequency signal is delivered to cause a tiny controlled superficial burn which stops the abnormal electrical activity within the heart. This procedure has a fairly high success rate and few complications and hence is being resorted to by most persons to avoid the problems of taking long term medications.