Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)

Alternative Names

PSVT; Supraventricular tachycardia

Definition of Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)

Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) is an occasional . “Paroxysmal” means from time to time.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Normally, the chambers of the heart (atria and ventricles) contract in a coordinated manner. The contractions are caused by an electrical signal that begins in an area of the heart called the sinoatrial node (also called the sinus node or SA node). The signal moves through the upper heart chambers (the atria) and tells the atria to contract.

Signs and tests

A physical examination during a PSVT episode will show a rapid heart rate.


If you do not have symptoms, PSVT may not require treatment.

Expectations (prognosis)

PSVT is generally not life threatening, unless other heart disorders are present.


Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine. Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/4/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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