Some doctors say anxiety, some say SVT...what is it?

Posted , 4 users are following.

Hello, I am a 24 year old male, average build, average fitness (I play some rec sports and can do physical labour). In 2011 I had my first 'attack' - I was getting ready to go a concert and having some drinks with some friends. Then I felt a lump in my throat and my heart started to race (180-200bpm), this lasted about 20 minutes. Another time that year I was just watching TV.

Half a year later in 2012, during a boxing lesson - I was physically and mentally drained; I decided to throw one last hard combo of punches...once again got the lump in my throat and a racing heart (for 25 minutes).

Everything was good for 2 years, until I was playing basketball in 2014 and this racing happened again when I went to sprint (for 15 minutes). After this 2014 episode I now get anxiety about my heart and health. So if my heart elevates, my anxiety elevates, causing my heart to elevate again from panic. It can be a vicious circle. I tried getting to a ER to catch it, but never could in time. All tests immediately after racing came back clean (EKG, chest x-ray, blood pressure and blood tests).

Fast forward to late 2017 to early 2018. I've had the 'attack' happen 3 times in the last year. First, I met the ambulance and it calmed down right away. Second, I got to an ER, it took them I while to see me and then tend to me once I was in bed so I was all on edge, which doesn't help. It stayed around 180bpm for an hour, EKG was normal rhythm, just fast; they gave me a beta-blocker. Not sure if I came down on my own or the beta did it.

Most recently, last weekend I was sitting down, got that lump in my throat, felt my heart like flip-flop, then the racing started for about 30 min (I half panic when I get the sensation which doesn't help things). Called an ambulance (heart reached 230bpm for a bit during the ride to ER), they took me to ER and managed to get an EKG, blood pressure and blood work during the racing finally (I caught it during!), all came back clean again! So did the chest X-ray right after. The ER doctor gave me 12mg of Adenosine which calmed it down.

Over the years, I received lots of blood work, EKGs, blood pressures, head CT scan, 48-hour monitor, stress test, and echocardiogram. ALL tests came back CLEAN and said I have a very healthy heart. About 4 different GP and ER doctors, plus a cardiologist all told me it was anxiety and a flight or fight response. Also during these 'attacks', my blood work and blood pressure are good, EKG is normal rhythm - just fast; I feel fine, I can walk, talk, breathe and feel normal (other than being scared).

During an average attack, the 180-200bpm lasts about 15-40 minutes. When I mentally calm down so does my heart, or vice-versa...I'm not too sure which calms first.

I got referred to another cardiologist. And I would like to know who else has experienced this, how do you deal with it, and what has been done for you? Thank you all smile

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  • Posted

    Hi Dexter,

    I have had svt for 20 years and this sounds like a classic case to me. You should see an electrophysiologist who specializes in heart arythmia's. svt is very perplexing because sometimes it happens with exercise and sometimes when you are doing nothing. I have gone years without an attack and then suddenly they start again. I usually only have one to two a year.


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  • Posted

    So far I've just dealt with mine but I'm still wearing my patch to capture episodes.  I had my first "attack" and had to call an ambulance just under 2 months ago.  I've caught a few quick episodes with the Z patch so interested to see what they come back with.  I have the beta blockers to take in case I need it, but they've really made me feel like crap so I avoid taking them.  They tend to do the opposite for me which is they give me anxiety.  I would definitely say that there is something that triggers in my brain when I have an attack - it has caused me anxiety for sure.  I don't get the anxiety so much now just thinking about it like I did when I first coming to terms with PSVT, but I had a short attack today after my work out and it triggered some anxiety and made me quite shakey.  I'm also in a terrible mood after an attack.  So far, I'm just trying to deal as they come without relying on meds.  I see my cardiologist in 2 weeks (I take the patch off on Tuesday and mail it in) then follow up with cardiologist.  Mine are so minimal though in comparison to others I read - I haven't gone above 180 BPM, not sure what I would do if I did.  I have noticed though that working out as much as I do has helped bc my resting heart rate average per day is just shy of 70 (I would say, 66 or 67) based on data from my applewatch.  When I'm asleep it is really low, when I'm just sat at my desk it's between 70-80.  If you can up your cardio routine, I recommend it bc if I skip more than 2 days of a good 30 -45 minute cardio workout, I've noticed my heart rate isn't as calm.  Just my advice though.


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    • Posted

      Thanks Jenny,

      The last ER doctor said that there is a procedure called a catheter ablation in which they burn a nerve on your heart to fix. I guess if that is what has to be done, then that's what has to be done.

      I have also read some other peoples posts...and seen some people have a heart rate 220+bpm for an hour or more. I think you and I are a bit more fortunate, considering yours doesn't go to high, and mine is normally 180bpm for 10-40 minutes.

      I have also been reading that if you can lose body fat if you are overweight, that it can cut the chances of an SVT down. It's worth a shot. I know anything can happen to anyone at anytime; but it is reassuring knowing that you're in shape, you are healthy, and your heart is strong from cardio. My resting blood pressure is normally 125/80 and resting heart rate is normally 65bpm.

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  • Posted

    Hey Dexter - no worries.  This forum has brought me relief, especially when the cardiologist first mentioned PSVT/SVT bc I'd never heard of it in my life.  Honestly I have learned a lot over the past 2 months on electrical issues with the heart.  My cardiologist also did talk to me about the catheter ablation, but my primary care physician told me to make sure I do my research bc if it's done incorrectly, you could be on a pacemaker.  I know folks on here have mentioned it and everyone's case is different.  If my cardiologist suggests ablation for me, then I'll go for a second opinion as well as an electrophys.  

    After my ER visit, the ER doctor told me not to exercise until I saw the cardiologist, which was a few days later.  My cardiologist told me not to ever stop working out - and to continue to be active since it will help my PSVT and he told me this is not life threatening nor dangerous.  I do believe that now, I just need to get better at not allowing it to get to me mentally.  Biofeedback is a real thing!  I can't explain it but when I overthink the PSVT and focus too much on my heart beats, it triggers something mentally - I do get panicky but it doesn't trigger anything with my heart it causes where it's hard for me to breath and then I gather my thoughts and it goes away.  I'm getting better at recognizing and controlling it as the days go.

    Start out with a regular workout routine.  If your heart rate goes up after physical activity, take an ice cold and wet towel and put it over your face.  This will get your heart rate down - works for me everytime.  Or I press an icepack on my neck.  Just try this overall during your next attack - the cold shock should bolt your heart back into normal pace.


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