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Exams and Tests

To find out whether you have supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), your health care professional will ask you questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam. These questions might include:

  • What, if anything, triggers your fast heart rate (exercise, stress, caffeine)?
  • What symptoms do you feel? Do they come on slowly or quickly? How long do they last?
  • Do your heartbeats feel regular or uneven?
  • Does anyone in your family have heart problems?

During the physical exam, your health care professional will listen to your heart and lungs. He or she will also feel your thyroid gland on your neck. Other tests may include blood tests and an echocardiogram (an ultrasound that shows pictures of the heart in motion).

Your health care professional will do a test called an electrocardiogram (ECG). During an ECG, sticky patches (electrodes) are placed on your chest. Each electrode has a wire that goes to the ECG machine so it can record your heart's electrical activity over several minutes. If you are in SVT, the machine will be able to measure it.

If you do not have an episode of SVT during your health visit, you may be given an electrocardiogram that you can wear at home. You may be asked to wear:

  • A Holter monitor. This is a small ECG that records your heart's electrical activity for 24 hours.
  • An event monitor. You can wear this for longer than a Holter monitor and press a button when you feel symptoms. The monitor will record details for the next few minutes while you're feeling the fast heart rate. You may be asked to wear this for days or weeks depending on how frequently you have symptoms.

If you're ECG shows SVT, your health care professional may want to perform an electrophysiology study to determine what type of SVT you have and what is causing it. This test is performed in the hospital. You will be sedated and wires are passed through your veins into your heart. Your doctor can look at different sections of your heart and see how they are sending electrical signals.

  • Last Edited 05/31/2018