My Crazy Heart: Supraventricular Tachycardia

Salty

Salty

Salty has written 283 posts on Salty Running.

Mom to three little ones: a fiery five year old son; a feisty three year old daughter; and the cutest red headed one year old little girl ever. Lawyer on extended "holiday." Competitive runner. Salty Running boss.

My heart is definitely a piece of work. Image via nature.com

I wanted to write a state of my pregnancy address for Labor Day. (Get it? Labor. Har.) But, something rather interesting has come up that I wanted to share with you instead.

Since high school, I’ve experienced an occasional freaky thing with my heart. Every once in a while, out of the blue and usually related to a run, but not always, my heart will start beating like crazy. It feels like it’s going to beat right out of my chest! When it first happened I went to see a cardiologist. He had me wear a thing called a Holter Monitor which recorded my heartbeat for about 48 hours. Of course, I didn’t have one of these incidencts while wearing the monitor, my EKG (measure of my heartrate and rhythms) came back clean and my basic exam showed me to be completely normal. The freaky heart thing, which I always referred to as a heart palpitation, would come on suddenly, leave quickly and once it was gone I felt like nothing ever happened. So the thought was that this was just a quirk and there was no need to worry about it.

Oh to be young and naive again!

Through the years it’s happened again, but these episodes of crazy heart rate started happening more frequently when I began my adult running career.  I just assumed it was something that other runners commonly encountered. The first time I remember it happening as an adult, I was doing an interval workout around the Central Park reservoir and in between reps felt one come on. I sat on a rock and waited for it to pass. It freaked me out, but once it was gone I felt totally fine and continued on with the workout! This is pretty typical for the episodes I have experienced over the last 7 years.

This is really close to where that incident happened in Central Park. I could see that bridge as I sat and waited it out.

My view of these heart palpitation episodes changed a few weeks ago. It was a Saturday morning and I ran super early to get home in time for a busy day ahead. At the half-way of my 5 mile out and back I stopped to pee and felt a heart palpitation come on. But this one was different then the earlier ones that went away on their own after a few minutes and were just minor annoyances.  I’ve never had one from running during any of my pregnancies. I’ve had them early in the pregnancy for a few seconds after bending down or something, but those quickly disappear. This one lingered. I was on an isolated stretch of road and sat on a split rail fence waiting for it to dissipate. But it didn’t. And then I started to feel anxious, nauseous and then I felt like I was going to faint! Since I ran from home and only ran short I didn’t bring my phone (I was kicking myself!) There was a house about 200 meters up the road. I got up to try to walk there, but I felt too woozy. I thought about trying to crawl – not kidding! I was so scared to lose consciousness by myself, pregnant, alone along the side road! I sat in the dirt next to the road and wished for a car. Any car. Anyone. Someone. Nothing. I was willing myself to stay with it and then I WILLED myself to relax. I needed to get that palpitation to stop. So glad I had some wits about me! It worked. My heart slowed down and regained its rhythm and I stood up and took a short walk to test everything out. And then I jogged slowly home.

And this is the crazy part. I still felt like it wasn’t that big of a deal! I swore then and there I’d always bring my phone with me and of course my husband was frantic and worried about me. But based on what I thought was going on, heart palpitations, I wasn’t worried about it. When you google “heart palpitations” the information is far from alarming. It sounds like they’re totally common especially when exercising, stressed and pregnant! Well, bingo

At my midwife appointment 2 weeks later I told my midwife what happened and she didn’t look so unworried. In fact, she made me schedule an emergency appointment with a cardiologist. At that appointment, I had an EKG which was totally normal and my exam was totally normal. Based on what I described and what he observed he concluded it was probably just a “benign quirk” and not to worry about it. Cool!

Or so I thought.

One week and one day after my cardiologist appointment, on a Saturday again (coincidence?), after my shower and before I had any coffee, I reached down to pick up some cat fur off the carpet and BAM! My babysitter was over playing with the kids as I was getting ready to leave for the farmers market. I excused myself and went and laid down to wait it out. I got up to go get my cell phone and couldn’t without feeling like I was going to faint. AGAIN! Well, at least this time I wasn’t on the side of the road! I laid there and watched the clock. 15 minutes passed and no change. I wrestled with the idea in my head for a good 5 minutes, but ultimately I did what I had to do. I called 911. Within 2 minutes the paramedics were dodging toys in my living room and hooking me up to an EKG. My heart rate was between 180 and 200 – steady! Yikes! They were not too keen on this and loaded me on the gurney. I made like I was having the time of my life so as not to freak out the kids and off we went. Sirens and everything! The whole time my heart rate stayed insanely high.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I did not expect I’d leave my house on one of these! Image via topmedicalsupply.com

We made it to the ER and I was wheeled straight into a room. I was immediately plugged into the hospitals EKG machine and the doctor was in super fast (note: when going to the ER you get awesome treatment when you’re a pregnant lady with a heart problem!) He looked at the EKG and started spouting off all kinds of stuff about electrical pathways that made no sense. He got the name of my cardiologist and left him a message. Then he proceeded to treat me. The first thing he did was have me try a Vagel Maneuver which is just like a push during labor. That supposedly gets the heart to go back to normal, but it didn’t for me. So, after a few tries with that it was on to the next trick to get my heart to get back to normal and this was a bit. well, insane.

The doctor warned me I was in for 8-10 seconds of incredible discomfort. Have you ever seen Pulp Fiction? You know the part when Uma Thurman od’s on heroine and John Travolta has to inject her heart with epinephrin? Well, that came to mind as I saw the nurse and her giant syringe. And then it was made worse when she asked the doctor if his syringe was ready. THE HELL?! I was seriously petrified. And then they counted to 3 and the nurse injected hers (into my IV and not my heart, thank goodness!) and then the doctor counted to 3 and did his and then HOLY HELL! I felt like someone was sitting on my head. I couldn’t breathe and felt immense pressure all over. I was crying and freaking out and then it was over. They gave me medicine that stopped my heart and then more or less reset it. And it was over! Phew! The looooooong hard tempo run heart rate without the actual running part was over. It lasted about an hour total.

So glad the doctor didn’t do this to me!

After my heart went back to normal the paramedics left (they were SO AMAZING! They waited to make sure I was ok before leaving me there. Thanks guys!!!) The doctor left. The nurses made sure I was ok and they left and I was there all alone, until my husband finally made it. I was so happy to see him! We waited about an hour and then the ER doc came back. He told me I have been experiencing something called supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). He said he talked to my cardiologist and he wants to see me Tuesday to start the process of determining what’s causing it. It’s most commonly caused by something called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW), but that is usually diagnosed on an EKG even without an episode of SVT occurring and my EKGs never had the tell-tale pattern for WPW.

The good news:

- It’s not life-threatening.

- I now have this phenomenon recorded and observed by doctors so we can get to the bottom of it.

- There are treatment options that aren’t totally awful.

- I can keep running as long as I always have a way to get help if I need it (carry my phone, tell people where I’ll be, stay in populated areas, etc).

- Baby Boo-Boo is A-OK!

The bad news:

- If it happens again (well, at least until my cardiologist comes up with a new plan) I have to go straight to the ER, which means I might have to call 911 if I don’t have someone to drive me there. UGH. Not a fan of the drama of riding out on a gurney to an ambulance!

- I am allowed ZERO caffeine. ZERO. Oh! The headaches! I LOVE coffee so this is really hard, but I’m 2 days cold turkey so I’m on my way to quitting for good. (Never EVER thought I’d be saying that.)

Bye bye coffee. Somehow I will need to intrinsically motivate myself to get out of bed and muster up the energy to GET.SHIT.DONE! Ouch. The headache!!!! Image via wikipedia.

So this is where I am right now. This happened just yesterday as I write this and I haven’t totally processed it all. I’m scared, but hopeful. It’s funny how something I thought was no big deal and probably something semi-normal in other athletes, turned out to be a totally and freaky thing pretty much confined to a select lucky few. If you’re someone who’s experienced SVT, please let me know how you cope!

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71 Responses to “My Crazy Heart: Supraventricular Tachycardia”

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  1. Mint says:

    Holy cow Salty – I am so glad you are okay! And I am so glad you called 911. Matters of the heart are not to be messed with, so please continue to be careful. I would definitely take the week off from running and switch to easy walks instead. No need to push it until you have a better handle on what is going on.

    • Salty Salty says:

      The ER doc and the cardiologist do not think that running is making it worse – case in point, this episode happened from picking up fuzz off the carpet! I’m allowed to run as long as I have an exit strategy to get to the ER. It sounds nuts, I realize :) I am not running without a phone, in desolate areas or where no one knows I am. I quit coffee, have been sleeping more and keeping the running easy. Today I slept until 9:00! And now it’s on the warm side so I’ll probably just take it easy and maybe walk with the family this evening or something. THANK YOU so much for being a supportive friend!!!

      • adam says:

        Hi Salty,
        I’ve been living with SVT the past 8 years. I had my first episode when i was riding my bike (Training for a triathlon). Didnt think much of it at the time but i did have to stop because the feeling was indeed strange. My HR was over 200 beats per minute! Went to my cardiologist who did every test under the sun but couldn’t come up with a diagnosis. I was only experiencing attacks 1 or 2 times a year so it really wasn’t alarming at the time. Fast forward, i’m going out of rhythm closer to a dozen times a year. I’ve seen 3 different cardiologist and finally the last appointment i had, the doctor gave me the diagnosis (even though nobody has been able to catch the event in person or on a monitoring device). I’ve gone to NYC rhythm laboratory and what they told me was that they wouldn’t do the ablation procedure at this time. Because my episodes only last for 30-45 seconds and only happen several times a year, it’s not worth the risk.

        Question – how often were you experiencing SVT attacks? Do you have an email you can send me to discuss this in more detail offline? I would greatly appreciate your advice!
        BEst,
        Adam

        • Salty Salty says:

          Hi Adam. I’d be happy to discuss this more. Give me an email @ saltyrunning at gmail. For others’ reference, my attacks were about as frequent, but were much more persistent lasting up to an hour or more, but usually in the 10-15 minute range. That is, until my 3rd pregnancy when they became really bad. I detail what brought me to my diagnosis and decision to have the ablation in my posts about SVT.

  2. martini mike says:

    i make it my duty to drink coffee for you and i will find others to help in this feat. ;^)

    glad it is not more dangerous. our hearts are pretty important when it comes to getting our miles in. egads!

    • Salty Salty says:

      While I joke the coffee part is the worst, and it DOES suck! It’s easy to deal with a minor headache for three days when it means I can keep running and enjoying life!

  3. MG says:

    First, glad you’re okay!

    My husband has/had PSVT. 4 years ago, his heart rate was recorded at 248, at the end of an episode. When he was in high school and playing football, it was recorded in the 290s. He did give up caffeine, and was on medication through high school. He started it again after college while playing broomball; sprinting on ice when its 20 below is hard on anyone’s heart. We had been in to see a cardiologist who mentioned ablation surgery, but it wasn’t happening often enough to justify the risks. He wasn’t allowed to drive to broomball, since if the episode lasted long enough he would lose vision and it was just dangerous in general to be driving. He had a friend that would drive and help him in the house if necessary. 4 years ago, he started having the episodes while playing softball (not exerting himself). We got into the ER to catch part of it on the monitor, as mentioned above. The cardiologist at that time felt we should talk more about the ablation. He had it done that year, and we lucked out that they were able to locate the extra pathway and it was in a place that could be ablated. He hasn’t really had any episodes since.

    When I met him in college, I knew he had a heart “thing.” He described it as his heart beating fast, which I thought wasn’t a big deal. The first time I saw it, it freaked me out.

    • Salty Salty says:

      Wow! I’m glad your husband is ok! Those are some INSANE heart rates! Did your husband have WPW or something else? I’ve heard good things about the ablation procedure. What was his recovery like? Can I contact you via email to discuss more after I see my cardiologist tomorrow?

      • MG says:

        It wasn’t WPW, but was caused by an accessory pathway around the AV node. His stress tests, etc always looked great unless he was having an episode. The cardiologist gave us a good analogy of a snake chasing its tail. The episodes came about when instead of running through the normal pathways, it would end up in the accessory pathway. When he was younger the “snake” would run into its “tail” quickly, so the episodes would end shortly. As he got older, it took longer for that to happen so the episodes lasted a lot longer. His recovery from the procedure was really smooth, he was up and about the next day, only worrying about breaking open a scab. Shoot me an e-mail if you have other questions or want to know more: runner78 (at) gmail (dot) com.

        In addition to caffeine, he was also told to avoid chocolate due to the theobromine.

  4. Mom says:

    Thank God for 911.

  5. Rosemary says:

    OMG Salty! What a stressful Saturday! I am glad to hear you and the baby are ok. Isn’t it crazy how we rationalize things in our minds– such as “I’m sure all runners feel this way…” Ugh! Thanks for sharing your story and being a wake up call to all of us who think our pain/ailment/heart flutters are just “normal.” Sometimes they aren’t!

  6. Melissa says:

    Oh my! Glad you are okay. That is even scarier than passing out with 2 pulmonary embolisms. At least we are still alive to share the stories with others so they know what to do. I am so glad you were able to get help. You can stop the competing for the scariest moment now!! You win! Seriously glad you and baby are okay!

    • Salty Salty says:

      Dude, you SOOOO win this contest! I even said to Mike in the ER, at least it’s not pulmonary embolisms! It’s nice to know I have someone to share ambulance ride and ER stories with :) Hope you’re feeling better!!!

  7. Sassafras says:

    So glad you are okay!!

  8. Joanne says:

    Aaack! Scary stuff! So glad you and Boo-Boo are okay! Wow, that might be too much excitement for one weekend, even for you. I love your attitude though–that “even though I have to give up caffeine, I DON’T have to give up running, so it’s all good!” So I guess the biggest prescription now is MORE SLEEP, eh? Hang in there, my friend. Soooo very glad you’re getting to the bottom of what’s going on!

  9. Cinnamon Cinnamon says:

    I’m toasting you with my coffee right now. Thanks goodness we’ve finally figured out the cause of your heart issues and we know you’re safe!

  10. Cathryn says:

    Oh my word this is such a scary story, especially when pregnant. I would be so scared. Glad you’re okay, kind of amazed they’re letting you continue running. Maybe try and get running buddies whenever possible?

    I’m also a runner with a heart condition so I know a little of balancing the sport that we love with being sensible and careful especially now I’m a mother. Hope your cardiologist gets a plan in place quickly.

  11. Freaky incident, a good reminder for us to let people know where we are, carry ID (you do have a RoadID with this info on it, right?), and have a way to keep in touch if needed. I’m sloppy about that but will now be less so. Thanks for the reminder and glad that everything but the coffee issue is OK.

  12. Alicia Barker says:

    Hello. I am a runner with medicated SVT. I drink coffee! Actually, it helps kick start my heart since I take meds at night. I usually run early in the mornings and average 20-30 miles a week depending upon what race I have on my calendar. I found this post while looking for any info on SVT and running and hypothermia. For example, running early this morning in 20 degree weather, I ended up covered in frost- my pony tail was literally frozen! Because I always have a hard time regaining normal body temperature following a cold run, and prolonged hot baths screw with my SVT, I usually cannot even crank my car after a long run in the cold because my hands are frozen in a curled position- even with ski mittens on- I took a thermometer to see what my temp was. Due to technical difficulties, I could not take my temp until I got home, after riding in the heated car, about 20 minutes later. At that point my body temp measured 95.5. I am seeing a new cardiologist this coming week and am curious to learn more. I would love to email or such because I have not met many people who are very active with SVT.

    • Salty Salty says:

      Hi Alicia. Thanks for writing. I never knew there was a link btw SVT and hypothermia. I’ve actually been hypothermic after two of my marathons. Otherwise, have been ok. I am not on meds. My EP isn’t too keen on them for me because I have low blood pressure. He wants to do an ablation. I am actually now waiting to hear back from him about scheduling it. Feel free to email me at saltyrunning at gmail about it any time. I’d love to talk about it more!

  13. Mark says:

    Hi. Like some others who have replied to your story, I too had SPVT. It started after I took up running and my accounts would be very familiar to you. Yours certainly were to me. At first, I didn’t understand what it was, but after several episodes my running friends pushed me into seeing a doctor. I was given a Holter monitor to wear and it did catch an episode I had after a run. This led to a cardiologist and more tests and the diagnosis of SPVT. Same story…not life threatning..etc…etc. Because I didn’t have medical coverage at the time my options were pretty limited so armed with that information and Vagal maneuvers I continued to run. My episodes would stop happening for periods of time but then out of the blue I would have repeat problems. Nothing seemed to stop the arrhythmias until they were “ready” to stop and some episodes could last for a quite a while. I managed to run 10 marathons with this condition, including one where I had a short episode during the marathon. In spite of the number of “attacks” I had and trying to trust that they weren’t life threatning – they never failed to scare the heck out of me. Every time. Eventually I got some insurance and was able to get help. First they tried Medication with little (no) succcess and finally decided to do an electrophysiology study. My case was complicated by a previously unknown rand are heart defect but it was determined that ablasion would help. I did have that procedure done and it has worked so far in that I haven’t had a single SPVT episode since. It (the proceedures) were not the most pleasant things, but all in all not too bad and I’m guessing they pale in comparison to childbirth. Good Luck with your running and everything from someone who has been there and can relate and sympathize. Mark (Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.)

  14. Brian says:

    Hang in there – It sucks but you get used to it after some time. Stay clear of caffeine in any form, salt and steer really clear of dark chocolates esp the high quality kind. My episode was exactly the same as yours. hang in there. remember the chocolate warning!

    Brian

    • Salty Salty says:

      My cardiologist and ep both said caffeine in moderation is fine with SVT – it has nothing to do with it. Also, I had the catheter ablation done 5 weeks ago now and while I have had frequent palpitations, I have not had an SVT episode since. The palpitations seem worse when I’m stressed (which is often with 3 small children!) and after drinking alcohol. I hardly drink, but if I even have 1 small glass of wine, it worsens the palpitations for a full day afterward. I do eat chocolate some times. I’ll have to pay attention to whether it seems to be making it worse and I’ll talk to my ep about it at my follow-up in a few days. THANKS! And good luck to you!!!

    • Salty Salty says:

      Oh, and salt? My ep told me to be sure to eat salted foods to maintain hydration and electrolyte levels, because dehydration. more specifically low potassium, is another thing that can trigger episodes. Man, SVT is no fun!

  15. Lauren says:

    Glad to find your post. I’m a severe asthmatic who was recently diagnosed with SVT, and I’m a runner. I am not running much these days, only about 20-25 miles a week, and am trying to improve. (Still haven’t gotten back to where I was before my daughter was born.) I’ve been getting frustrated, though, because my heart rate will quickly spike to 180+ while running, and since I’ve been diagnosed I get nervous about it and stop and walk/jog. I’m also not medicated for the SVT. Dr says running is fine, as long as I’m cautious about it, but I’m curious to know how others are coping with this. In the past, I’d always just run through these episodes as best I could, though in retrospect, I think that wasn’t always a good idea. I would love to know more about your/others experiences and how you cope with this.

    • Salty Salty says:

      I never tracked my heart rate in training. Looking back,I often had spells during longer runs and races when I would feel a tightness in the back of my throat and feel like I couldn’t breathe so easily. I’m guessing that was an episode. Before I was pregnant this last time, I’d get episodes and stop running until they went away. It would usually just take a few minutes and then I’d be fine to continue on. SVT is almost never life threatening. I wouldn’t run while you’re experiencing an episode, though. I’d wait for it to go away if you can. I’d also look into having the ablation since it seems to really be impacting your life. I had it done. You can read about my experience with the ablation here: http://www.saltyrunning.com/2013/01/31/my-not-so-crazy-supraventricular-tachycardia-update/ It’s been 6 weeks since the procedure and I am now considered cured! It’s so exciting to think that I won’t have this interrupting my training or the rest of my life any more!!!

      • Lauren says:

        Thanks! I’ve been reading more and more about ablation. Sounds scary as hell, but it also sounds like it might be a really good option for me at some point.

        • Salty Salty says:

          I was very scared to do it, but I was more scared of the SVT getting worse and happening while I was driving or trying to take care of my kids. The doctor said it would only get worse as I got older. I have to say, 6 weeks post-procedure and I am better than ever. Find a good electrophysiologist and go for it!

  16. Genie says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! I’m 27 now but I developed SVT when I was 12 and got the ablation done at 14. The episodes would happen all of the time, even with medication, and it was horrible as a teenager to constantly need to leave school to go to the emergency room. I was also told by the cardiologist to give up the caffeine but I couldn’t give up my sports! The episodes always happened for me when I jumped around but they would never break unless I got the adenosine (aka the heartstopper). I’m so grateful for the experience. The SVT is why I became a pharmacist and my experience has helped me connect with my patients on a whole new level. Post-ablation, I do get some occasional PVCs but nothing that has made me end up in the ER again.

    For anyone who wants details on my ablation procedure, I will be more than happy to share! In a nutshell, it was very painful getting the catheters inserted/removed, I woke up while they burned the nerves (very strange sensation when it’s happening), and I was unsteady walking for about a week or so after the surgery. I got my procedure done at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia (since I was still a kid at the time). All in all, I’m glad I did it. I feel like I got my life back!

  17. I am a sophomore in college and I have had SVT since I was in 8th grade. I had the ablation surgery during my senior year in high school, but it didn’t work and my episodes started up again 6 months later. I am also a long distance runner, so this causes difficulties. It usually gets up to 240 or above, but today it happened and it was 250 or 260 (it was racing too fast so I was having trouble counting the beats in my head). I am running a half marathon in a week and I am worried it will happen then, because I don’t know if I should stop for good if it happens, or just take a break and then start up again. To cope, I usually just lay down on my back right away. It keeps beating fast for 30 to 45 seconds and then stops beating for a second, and then starts up again at about resting heart rate.

    • Salty Salty says:

      Hi Heather! I would highly recommend that you go see another electrophysiologist and discuss the failed ablation. I’ve heard of it taking more than one try to get rid of the extra pathway. It would be worth it. Such high HRs are no joke and I know how awful it can feel! I can tell you from personal experience that SVT gets worse, not better as you age. It would be well worth your time to seek out the most experienced electrophysiologist who specializes in ablations in your area. Please keep me posted on how you’re doing and what a doctor says if you go to see one. THANKS for sharing your story!

  18. w. f. says:

    Have had it fifteen years and doing fine. Send me a note and I will tell you my story.

  19. Claire says:

    Hi,

    Had an ablation in 2004. I had previously seen 3 cardiologists but none of them could ever “catch” the SVT when it was kicking in. They all said I was stressed and drinking too much coffee (I was drinking 1 cup a day!!!) Had to have surgery for endometriosis and the morning of surgery they hooked me up to the machine and gave me valium. As they were talking to me my heart rate started climbing (as per usual) and they kept telling me to “calm down”…….I explained to them that they had given me valium and I couldn’t BE anymore calm!!! With heart rate still elevated they wheeled me into surgery. woke up to be told they had to cancel the surgery because “you have a heart condition”. FINALLY!!!! They were finally able to catch the SVT on an EKG!!! Ended up having the ablation the following month. It’s been 9 years and so far so good. I’m about to start running though so I’m worried about that. Any suggestions? I”m taking it slow. I’ve never been a sporty person and I’ve used my “heart problem” as my excuse not to exercise!!!

    Glad to hear you’re doing OK. Any running advice for a fellow SVT’er?!?!?!? ;)

  20. Rachel says:

    Aww….so sorry! I’ve had SVT for 17 yrs…don’t like it much, but am not yet to the point of doing an ablation, although my cardiologist has offered! I used to lay down and wait for it to pass…I had a longer episode in the clinic where I work (I am an RN), and we put a monitor on me and my heart was going 248 bpm…the other RN said, “Noooo…that can’t be your heart!!” I tried valsava’s and it brought it down to 188…eventually it went away…but yeah, it scares me to exercise sometimes as I am a single mom now to my 3 kids and I can’t have anything happen to me.. And you are SO brave to be cardioconverted…I am scared for that day if it comes for me. I remember hearing horror stories in nursing school about it!!

    • Lauren says:

      Rachel — Your comment is so encouraging to me! I was diagnosed with SVT last fall, and was told a few months (and many silly tests) later that I’m not a candidate for ablation, and because of where the excess tissue in my heart is located, will likely never be. The next step would be a pace maker… Which doesn’t sound like much fun at all — even less fun than ablation! So far, I have been able to slow my own heart rate by lying down and/or compression breathing. There’s always a little fear in the back of my head for the day these things don’t work to slow down my heart rate. The fact that you have been doing the same for 17 years is encouraging! For awhile, the doc told me not to exercise until they knew better exactly what was going on, and that pretty much got me out of the habit. I have been cleared to exercise for a couple of months now; just can’t seem to get my butt off the couch… but I’m working on it!

      • Salty Salty says:

        I’m so sorry, Lauren! Have they talked to you about medication? The medication was a no-go for me because of the risk of depression (already predisposed) and being a high-level athlete, the forced lower heart rate wouldn’t work. But if you can handle those side-effects, it seems like it would be worth a try to avoid a pacemaker.

        The other thing is that maybe talk to your doctor about making an exercise plan in case an episode happens. When I was pregnant, my electrophysiologist and I came up with the plan that I would always run where EMTs would have easy access to me – neighborhoods or treadmill, basically. I was to have my phone with me at all times. If I had an episode I was to lie down immediately and call 911 and have the squad take me to the ER. It sounds dramatic, and I never had to actually do any of this!, but having a plan helped me overcome my fear.

        GOOD LUCK!!! Please keep us updated on how things go.

        • Lauren says:

          The exercise plan is a good idea. I’m going to do that. As far as meds, I’m kind of SOL, because I have relatively severe asthma. (In fact, when this all started, I thought it was an asthma thing.) I guess the beta blockers they would give me for SVT don’t play well with symbicort or albuterol. Basically right now, I try to “live like a heart patient” as far as what I eat, etc. Doc told me to go ahead and exercise, but don’t go all out… He basically said to do 80% of what I want to do when I work out. (I’m a little competitive, so I guess that makes sense.) Mostly just learning to live with it. Glad I know what’s happeneing when it does happen, so at least I can (hopefully) explain a bit to medics if I ever get in real trouble. I have a valve thing going on, too, but basically they are just kind of watching all of it for now.

    • Salty Salty says:

      Rachel,

      The ablation was seriously the best thing I have done. I didn’t run for 4 days. I did 40+ miles the week after it!

      Ha! As for the adenosine, I didn’t have a choice :) It was scary as hell, but having a 200+ bpm for over an hour while pregnant is also scary as hell! Ha! I’m glad this is behind me. It’s been 7 months since the ablation and I would never ever know I ever had SVT or a major invasive heart procedure so recently! If you ever want to talk more about whether to do it, you know where to find me. I’d be happy to help :)

      Good luck!

  21. rachel says:

    I have gotten this for years. I am 53, got lyme disease (had low level for years, many deer tick bites before with no treatment)
    had two heart episodes-high inflammatory rate and enzymes

    Anyway, my running has been doing great, usually win age group and have better times than women your age twenties and thirties and forties

    Did boston several years, ago and back to marathon running

    What seems to help is no sugar, no refined sugar
    I actually run better after a fasting state, and after maybe 13 or 14, start to have food

    Even eating a banana (fructose) can make the heart papitations-tachcardia.
    So, very limited diet. I don’t eat anything except the way god made it
    no gluten, no baked goods, fruits vigetables, yogurt

    Sugar I decided will bring it on, even from fruit. An apple may b OK versus a bannana
    before long distance running.

    My times became much faster, becuase I was not stoppedin my tracks, made to slow down when I got the similar heart thing…impossible to run with it, one time tried years ago, and muscles failed, and fell.

    So, I know it sounds bad, but running with no food, works for me.
    When I did a marathon (did finish-first in five years after lyme) I stupidly ate a bannana
    and a half and a whole cliff bar whichis loaded with refined organicsugar. Running was horrible, with heart thing happeneing four to five times. thefirst five miles. Then it kicked out when I drank water, to dilute the sugar and not gatorade,and was great for the next ten miles, upping my speed.

    I am going to experiment with eating two to threehours before, a bannana, and see what happens on my run. But runninginthe fasting state, morning with no food, is ideal and races where I had minimal to eat for atleast six hours before, I run the best.

    So the fuel concept, does not work for everyone. Some people have different bodies.
    Maybe stone age, needed people (not everyone) that could run just as effectively if not better (away from predators or to catch prey for dinner) with no food for several days

  22. natasha says:

    Get a small coffee half decaf half regular this is low enough to not start off my svt.

  23. mafel says:

    HI Salty, I find your blog very helpful. I experienced the same thing about that resetting the heart and all. I was also brought to the ER, and then they gave me ADENOSINE thru IV also. Believe me, it freaked me out also. They even warned me that I will feel a little hard on the chest.

    I felt the same thing, I was like paralyzed for 5-10 seconds and I can’t explain it exactly. It was like something heavy is placed in my body pushing me down.

    The doctor said my heart stopped for a while they had it recorded in a mobile video cam. The goal is to really stop the heart to restart its beating rhythm. And then my heart beats normal again.

  24. Lea says:

    Hi Salty, I have just been diagnosed with SVT…. And oh Boy, I do not really know what to think of it. I suffered similar symptoms as your with the difference that mine would wake me in the middle of the night – and thank goodness not as severe as yours! I have never been admitted and on an EKG while my heart was acting out. For me, if usually happens on days that I don’t run. really weird! I am reading that low potassium levels might be a contributing factor? Its been a couple years since your post – maybe they have came up with a treatment for you that I can discus with my md. Although he prescribed Verapamil, I do not want to start or do anything new at this point – I have a race coming up in less than 3 weeks….

    • Salty Salty says:

      Did you tell your doctor (hopefully an electrhysiologist) that you are an athlete? Medication was not for me because of that and because I am at high risk for depression. I had an ablation. If you click on the supra ventricular tag on this post you’ll find a link to my post about the ablation. I don’t have a lot of time now, but email me if you need more info., saltyrunning at gmail. Good luck!

  25. elisalou says:

    I just found your blog. My son was diagnosed with SVT when he was 3 weeks old. He was medicated his first year and then it appeared to go away. It came back when he was around 5. It would usually require ER visits to bring him out of it so we opted for the ablation. That was 9 years ago. Last night he was at lacrosse practice (it’s conditioning week so intense workouts) and he had a 10 minute episode. First one in 9 years. He runs XC and has played lacrosse for all those years with no incidence. I have a call in to his cardiologist (whom I haven’t seen in 9 years) but I’m also wondering if the caffeine, dehydration, and lack of sleep from a sleepover may have contributed. I am trying not to get worked up but I so don’t want to do down this road again. :(

  26. Nananancy says:

    After a very scary episode of what had been assumed to be anxiety attacks I just, at age 58, was diagnosed with SVT. For years, since high school, I have had various symptoms of SVT that have impacted the way I live my life. Now my fear is it happening again. I too had the pulp fiction treatment and a cardio-catheterization which showed an otherwise healthy heart.

    I am interested in reading the responses from runners like you who continue to run and get the heart pumping. I’m still not clear, being just days out of the hospital, whether or not it is okay to do so.

    My nine year old grandson has had some similar incidents making us wonder whether or not this is an hereditary condition.

    Thanks for the blog Salty

  27. Jeanine says:

    Hi-I was pleasantly surprised to come across this blog. I am 31 and was just diagnosed with SPV. Ive had symptoms for years but was convinced they were normal. For the past few months the episodes have gotten more frequent. According to a halter monitor I had 4 episodes in a 24 hr period. I was only aware of one instance which tells me I am so used to it occurring that I don’t realize it. I am going for a second opinion but the first electophysiologist recommended ablation. Not sure how I feel about this since I have not needed to be hospitalized for an episode. I am typically able to use maneuvers to get my heart rate back to normal. I am also not a runner so this hasn’t affected me in that way. Is it guaranteed to become worse? I have cut out caffeine. Any suggestions?

  28. Eric says:

    I was diagnosed about 6 weeks ago with SVT and spent a few days in hospital while they tested me to work out the most appropriate for of treatment. I’m taking meds that have so far controlled the episodes, but I’d like to start exercising more often and am concerned perhaps even medicated, this could trigger an attack.
    I’d rather not be on meds forever if i can avoid it, so hoping in the near future to look into the ablation option and whether i’m a suitable candidate.
    I have been told though, that if the meds are controlling the condition adequately, an ablation is not something that would be offered to me.

    Fortunately the meds I’m on are working to date, and I have no side effects of them, BUT, I’d really rather not be medicated. Any advice on both the exercising on meds and experience from others on managing SVT long term with meds?

    • Salty Salty says:

      All I can tell you is what my EP told me: the meds were beta blockers and I was not a good candidate for medication because I’m an athlete who also happens to be prone to depression. Beta blockers keep your heart rate low and that’s no fun for athletes and they put you at an elevated risk for depression, from what I understand. My episodes were fairly benign until my last pregnancy and then after the episodes were viscous, so I’d probably get the ablation anyway. The ablation itself was not too bad. It was expensive (I’m in the states, so make of that what you will), but the recovery time was quick – I couldn’t run for 4 days and then I had palpitations for about 4 months after. Good luck! Keep us posted on what you decide!

  29. Jeanine says:

    Thanks for your feedback! I am also not a candidate for meds because I already have low blood pressure. I’m anxious to see what happens when I’m hooked up to a 2 week monitor soon. I will also be seeing the new EP at the end of the month. I am glad the ablation went well for you. Ive had two c sections so I feel like i can handle surgery but I don’t particularly care for the way the its done. Did insurance not cover you?

    • Salty Salty says:

      Thankfully we had insurance – it was an $85,000 procedure! We had a small portion of that out of pocket, but it was still substantial. What is it about the way it’s do e that bothers you? Maybe I can help you feel more at ease about it if you need to,or want to go that route. At a minimum, keep me posted on how things go! Good luck!

  30. Laith says:

    I am 19 years old and had an SVT episode at the age of 14 my heart beat per minutes was ranging from 220 -240. One thing I usually do and works really well for me is getting a bucket of water and put ice in it and once the water is really cold you put your head in the water for 10 seconds holding your breath if that does not work try it again it works really good with me. I have had about 5 episodes in my life in which 2 out of the 5 episodes I went to the E.R and got administered Adenosine. TRY THE ICE WATER out it might work .:)

    • Salty Salty says:

      I randomly just heard of this trick over the weekend! Sounds like it’s definitely worth a try for those having an SVT episode. THANKS!

  31. Esjaydee says:

    Hey Salty. Readings through all these posts today. My quick story – I started experiencing the SVT episodes about 3 years ago; first one when I was bending over to pick something up off the floor. During the ensuing couple of months, I would get them when bending over, but then also they would start for no apparent reason. Scary. Heart rate got up to 250+. Saw a cardio who put me on a monitor. They caught it, diagnosed as PSVT, and recommended an ablation. Had it done in NYC at Mt. Sinai 2 years ago. Since then, I’ve experienced a few SVT-like episodes. But, also have had very frequent PVCs since the day I left the hospital, something I never had before the ablation. So it’s been 2+ years now of trying to figure out and remedy these PVCs, which I’m told are not life threatening, but certainly don’t make me feel well through the day. Happy to discuss with you or anyone else on this thread who has experienced the same issues, as I’m continuously looking for answers. Certainly lots of the same information online about these things, so it can be tough to filer out the credible info! Hope you’re well.

    • Salty Salty says:

      Hi! Thanks for sharing this!!! I experience funny feeling “palpitations” from time to time. My EP told me I would and said it was my heart beat trying to go into the old SVT pathway. It feels like I’m about to have a SVT episode, but then goes away. I was monitored for 2 months after my ablation and everything was normal – and I experienced a lot of these episodes post-ablation. SO I try not to worry about it too much. I find I have these sensations most often when I’m dehydrated or stressed. After the ablation I’d have them the worst every morning after I loaded my three kids in the car to head to school – the most stressful time of my day! Keep us posted if you find out what’s going on or how to remedy your issue!

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