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Avatar universal

SVT vs Anxiety

In the past, I've confused my SVT with anxiety or panic attacks. Whenever I get really anxious, I constantly fear I will go into SVT and have to go to the ER. I hate when you have to get the shot of adenosine in the ER :( I've also never had panic attacks prior to being diagnosed with SVT. So me knowing I have SVT causes me anxiety and then leads to a panic attack. Any insight on this matter? Maybe on how to distinguish between the two? How to calm down? Isn't anxiety a trigger of SVT?
32 Responses
1182699 tn?1297578384
For 18 years, I've had heart junk. Started with flip flops and they thought SVT but could never catch it. Now I've been diagnosed with PVC's and PAC's and tachycardia. Through all of this, I started having anxiety. Everytime I would have a heart "episode", I would be diagnosed with anxiety. A few years ago I started having panic attacks, with the first one coming on after a heart episode. I am now pretty much convinced my "anxiety and panic" are more heart issues than actual anxiety. My heart seems to always precede any anxiety or panic attack I have. I believe there may be some SVT or afib going on, in my case, but they just can't seem to catch it. I've even worn a 30-day monitor. The only thing that calms me when I'm having a panic attack is taking a xanax. I also try to walk the adrenaline off by moving around. They say panic attacks last a few minutes...mine have lasted hours, which leads me to believe as I said above, there is more to it in my case.
1807132 tn?1318747197
What kind of svt do you have?  Does it start and stop suddenly without provocation?  How fast does your heart beat?  When it starts does it not stop on its own for you?  Have you been offered an ablation to fix the svt?  Most svts are fairly easy to fix.  Afib is a bit more tricky but is still fixable but depending on where you live an ablation can be expensive.  In any event, islolated events, like having only a one or so a year that revert on their own are likley nothing to need worrying about but if you are having more than that and are unable to get them to stop without intervention I would think a cariologist would have recommended an ablation for you?  Your other option is to do what rilensnic does and take anxiety meds when you feel a panic attack coming on.  Finally try to do your best to let go of the anxiety and fear.  I know easier said than done but the odds of you dieing of this are very slim and the more anxiety you hang onto the worse you are making the situation.  When you feel your heart start to beat fast stop and take some deep breaths and release your fear.  If your beat slows down then you are having anxiety.  If the beat remains high then you are likely in svt.  Take care and do your best to take control of this at least emotionally and you will feel stronger at handling it.  Good luck.  
Avatar universal
I'm not sure what kind of SVT I have, I've just been told "You have SVT". It has started and stopped before but for about 10 minutes. Or I have those feelings of skipped heart beats or one big beat..those kinds of things but they aren't too frequent. I've had SVT for a while but wasn't diagnosed with it until recently because I never got help for it, thinking oh everyone goes through this or it was normal. It feels like my heart is vibrating rather than beating and before I could stop it on my own. But one time it wasn't stopping, I decided to go to the ER and it was recorded at I believe, 225 or 250. No one has insisted or pushed me to get an ablation, maybe because they don't think it's serious enough. I'll have to talk to my cardiologist more about that. But ablations just scare the you know what out of me especially since you're somewhat awake, right? I do take anxiety meds but I don't want to have to rely on them to make me better so I'm finding other ways to be more peaceful as a person like yoga, music, etc. Before when, I had panic attacks, I felt the need to go to the ER but luckily now I can stop them on my own. Haven't had SVT since about 4 months ago. But yeah I'm learning to distinguish between the two: anxiety and SVT. Thank you so much for your input!
Avatar universal
woops, the previous post was to Michelle, responding to yours next..
Avatar universal
Does your heart go really fast? Because mine has been recorded at about 225 and that's when they diagnosed me with SVT. And yeah ever since I've been diagnosed, I now have a panic disorder and am dealing with anxiety. Ugh, why does our heart have to cause us so much problems?? So I totally feel your pain. Have they done more tests on you? like an echo? ekg? stress test? I would get more tests done by cardiologists. A second opinion never hurts too. Do you consider yourself an overly anxious person? Because anxiety can definitely cause the fast heart rate and what not. Because when I have had SVT, it literally feels like a vibrator is in my chest and like I said, it was at about 225 beats per minute. So try all the maneuvers to slow your heart rate down like deep breaths, positive thoughts....because I've noticed when I'm going through anxiety attacks I'm thinking negative thoughts like what if I'm going through SVT?! Maybe yours does just have to do with anxiety but of course I would seek an expert's advice. You could also be dealing with Panic Disorder, so maybe seeing a therapist would help as well. Best of luck to you.
Avatar universal
Also, the fact that xanax calms your heart down...that could be a sign that it is just anxiety since xanax is what temporarily relieves anxiety...so as I said before, get tests done to see that your heart is okay. And then seek help from a therapist to deal with the mental stuff. I wish you well.
1807132 tn?1318747197
It sounds like you may have the same type of svt I had, avnrt.  The electrical signal of the heart gets caught in a loop around the avnode.  It is a short circle thus causing the high heart rate of 225.  Mine was clocked at 230.  I had the condition my whole life but have been getting progressively more and more episodes the older I got.  I was starting to get weekly episodes most only lasting minute or two but I had a few that went hours before stopping.  I actually never went to the ER thinking I would get there and they would stop so why waste anyone's time but a few I did let go too long.  The fact that you are only getting a couple a year is likely why an ablation wasn't offered as yet.  The EP would really need to be able to induce an episode to be able to ablate and it is an expensive procedure to go in unsure they would be able to induce an event.  That said, the condition won't go away and may indeed get worse so at some point you may be faced with needing an ablation.  I was awake for mine, other weren't but they give you sedatives to relax you and it really is not that bad.  The anticipation is worse than anything.  The rest is like getting ivs put in.  I have a journal entry about my experience if you wanted to read a bit about it.  

The skipped beats you are feeling are actually something different than the svt.  The skipped beats could be coming from the atria or ventricles and basically means there are some cells in your heart that are misfiring or firing off an extra beat that disrupts the normal beating cycle of your heart.  The normal beats when disrupted can cause a pause as the atria resets itself.   They are harmless but can be a trigger for the avnrt to start up.  It is during the pause that the extra signal going to the avnode can get caught in a loop.  Pacs and pvcs can be triggered by stress and anxiety so the more you can do to give yourself some stress release the less likely you will get the skipped beats and the less likely you will fall into svt.  That said, neither of the conditions will go away.  The best you can do is manage them.  And the first step to managing them is to take control of your anxiety.  And a good way to get past that is to resolve in your mind that none of this is going to kill you.  There are some treatment options available if your quality of life is suffering but for the most part these conditions are benign and you will be able to live a long and productive life.
1182699 tn?1297578384
My apologies for misunderstanding your post. My post was a response to what I thought you were asking there being a connection between SVT and anxiety/panic attacks. I just wanted to reiterate that some people with heart rythym disturbances do exhibit the same signs and symptoms of anxiety/panic attacks, as is in my case, and that people may actually be experiencing heart rythym disturbances and not necessarily anxiety/panic attacks, again, as is in my case. Xanax does calm me, as it is a sedative, but it does not stop the tachy (180+ during deep sleep or 140+ while sitting at desk) or PVC's. In my non-medical, personal experience opinion, some heart rythym issues may be mistaken for anxiety or panic attacks. I hope you find the answers you are looking for.
Avatar universal
How could you stand having a fast heart rate for so long??? I feel if it doesn't go away in like 15 minutes (when I know it's SVT), I have to go the ER just because I'm so scared and it's so uncomfortable for me. I would love to read your journal. Did you choose to be awake? How sedated were you? I want to be asleep because I'm so terrified of the procedure and all the horror stories I've read. I'm also quite anxious myself. Do you think if I were to knock out a lot of the anxiety the triggers of svt or skipped beats would go away? or the majority of them? Is it always a guarantee that your SVT will get worse with age? I'm hoping that isn't so. Is your Svt cured with the ablation??
Avatar universal
Oh it's okay rilesnic. I know I have SVT. But I just experience anxiety attacks that I've confused with SVT. I hope your situation gets better as well. :)
1807132 tn?1318747197
I grew up having the episodes so I thought they were normal and everyone had them.  As I got older I started to smoke so when the episodes got worse I thought I was actually hyperventilating.  They generally only lasted 5 minutes tops until about 3 years ago I had an 8 hour episode.  I looked up online what I was feeling and realized at that point it was my heart.  I really can't tell you why it never frightened me.  I would feel like I might pass out and it was hard to breath but I never felt I was going to die.  I partly think I trusted the episode would stop so I didn't worry about it.  After the 8 hour episode and going the doctor to be told I am fine I decided I would take up a cardio routine.  That was probably one of the best decisions I could make.  After I got my heart a little healthier I was actually able to tolerate the episodes really well.  I could almost function.  I had to sit and be calm until it passed but I didn't feel quite as out of it as I did before I started taking up cardio.  The only problem is the episodes though they didn't feel as tough didn't really stop.  I was still getting them almost weekly.  And it was a 12 hour episode that prompted me to go back to the doctor.  This time I was sent to a cardiologist who right away kind of knew it was svt and I was offered an ablation from the get go.  

My ablation was a piece of cake mostly because I was very active.  I stressed a little about doing it and so the pvcs were going crazy which caused me to have 7 episodes the week I was having the procedure.  So when I got in it didn't take much to get the svt going and like I said if they can get it going they can ablate pretty easy.  If you do indeed have the avnrt it really is one of the easiest fixes of them all with the main complication being the accessory pathway being too close to the good pathway.  If it is they can't ablate.  Mine wasn't.  If you want to read my journal entry click on my name and go to my page.  There are some horror stories but I think there are more success stories than horror stories.  It is just most people only get on these kinds of sites when they are having problems.  But for all it is worth mine was one of the best success stories around.  

Looking back I realize the pvcs were a big trigger for the svt.  And I was having some untreated stomach issues at the time that I didn't realize I had so eating was a trigger for the pvcs as well.  I don't think I would have stopped the episodes completely but if I had gotten a handle on the pvcs I may have lessened the amount of svt episodes I was having.  That said, I don't know that everyone's svt will progress.  It won't go away because it is structural not lifestyle related.  But everyone is different.  I smoked for 25 years.  It may have compromised my breathing a bit which also leaves you vulnerable to pvcs triggering the svt.  The doctor says no but I think my lifestyle may have had a hand in it at least partly. In any event, you do have to be prepared that the pvcs won't go away.  They are totally unrelated to the svt.  They can trigger each other but the pvcs are a different problem.  I did have a bad bout of them in Oct that were really bad, about 10,000 a day for around a week.  They actually made me sicker than I ever felt with the svt.  But they have settled back to where they were before the ablation, having a handful a day at most.  And my heart feels calmer than it has felt in years.  

So my best advice is to keep an eye on any stomach issues you might have, work at releasing stress and take up some cardio.  All these things will help you have a healthier heart and will help keep your rhythm problems in check or at least manageable.  Also, read up on vagal maneuvers to try to get the svt to stop once it starts up on you.  You basically bear down like going to the bathroom while holding your breath.  Or try gagging or coughing to see if that would stop it.  If you can figure out how to stop your svt then you may not need to go to the ER to get it to stop which I hear is just dreadful.  I never went and it sounds like I am lucky because it sounds like the adenosine is quite nasty.  Well you can attest to that yourself.   Either way the best thing you can do for yourself is to take charge of this.  You may not be able to completely control it but if you can take charge you might not feel as anxious about the whole thing which might be making your situation worse than it would be for you.  If you can keep the episodes to a couple a year you may never need an ablation especially if you can get them to stop on their own.  Ok, take care and if you have anymore questions just let me know.  
Avatar universal
Oh my gosh, an 8 hour and 12 hour episode??? That would make me sooo uncomfortable. But I do get what you mean about at first, like feeling that it's normal or everyone must go through this. When I first had SVT episodes, I just kinda dealt with it, waiting for it to go away, which it did after minutes. But now that I'm older, I was like wait a minute...I gotta get this checked. All I've been dealing with lately is panic attacks and anxiety which I can control now by avoiding the negative thoughts of "Oh it could be SVT". But yes, next time I actually have an SVT episode rather than an anxiety attack, I will use those maneuvers. How long should I wait for it to go away before I go to the ER? I would just be worried that if you wait too long, you'd be causing damage to your heart. But I'm glad yours has turned into more of a success story in the end. I will definitely take a look at your journal.

Oh and speaking of exercise, how did you allow yourself to do such cardio? I just hate the feeling of the heart rate going up, even though you know your exercising...because isn't exercise also a trigger for svt or could be? Makes me think I should get a stress test. I'm taking yoga (easy yoga) and walking here and there. But even when I do yoga, I get a little worried about my heart.

Thanks Michelle.
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