Heart rate issues can be a scary occurrence if you are not sure of what is happening. There are multiple different forms of heart rhythm abnormalities. Two of the most common will be discussed in this article: Atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia. They are two very different disorders, but with any heart disorder can be extremely dangerous. Consult your physician immediately if you are showing signs of either of these health issues.

Facts About Atrial Fibrillation (AFIB)

1. Irregularly Irregular
With Afib the heart beat has no pattern. It can go between very slow to extremely fast with no sign or reason. This can be extremely scary as well as cause dizziness and fainting. Having an atrial fibrillation also greatly increases your risk of suffering from a stroke.

2. Signs
Some of the common signs that you have an atrial fibrillation are fatigue, dizziness, weakness, and fainting. It is extremely important to contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms with an irregular heartbeat.

3. Increased Risk
There are multiple factors that can increase your chances of suffering from an A-fib. The risk factors are sleep apnea, obesity, aged older than 60, a family history of A-fib, being a white male. Lifestyle choices can also impact your risk like long term, heavy alcohol use, using illegal drugs, or smoking.

4. Treatment
Treatment options are available for people suffering with an atrial fibrillation. Rate control medications can be used to increase or decrease the speed of the heart rate, but do not return a normal rhythm to the beats. Electrical cardioversion is also used to try to help control the heart’s rhythm. This is done with a low voltage shock to the heart.

Facts About Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

1. Rapid Heart Beat
SVT is characterized by a heart beat that is above 100 beat per minute. This causes the heart to beat so quickly that is does not get to rest in between beats which may cause dizziness or fainting and is usually a sign of an underlying heart disease.

2. Symptoms
The symptoms of SVT can be hard to detect because they can come or go very quickly. Lasting between 2 minutes and 2 days. Some common symptoms include : shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, palpitations, and anxiety. If these are accompanied with a heart rate of 140-150 beats per minute they are signs of SVT.

3. Causes
There is a multitude of causes that supraventricular tachycardia can be attributed to. The most common are thyroid disease, smoking, emotional stress, excess caffeine intake, blood clots, chronic lung disease, heart failure, and pregnancy. It can also come on as a side effect of certain medications.

4. Treatment
If a SVT episode comes on suddenly the practice of vagal maneuvers can be used to help regulate the vagus nerve. These maneuvers include putting your face in cold water, holding your breath, or coughing. These can help slow the electrical impulses which regulate the heart rate. If you are not able to slow your heart rate you need to go to the emergency room immediately.

Differences Between Afib and SVT

1. Heart Beat
When deciphering the differences between afib and svt is the regularity of the heart beat. With afib the heart beat is completely random, and cannot be predicted. It goes from very fast to very slow within minutes. Svt on the other hand is characterized by a fast heart rate and does not go back and forth.

2. Treatment
The treatment for afib and svt are also quite different. Afib, because of its randomness, can be dangerous, for this reason it is usually treated with daily rate-control medicines. SVT however, comes on suddenly and doesn’t last very long, so small exercises during an episode or a trip to the emergency room are the only typical forms of treatment.

3. Risk Factors
The risk factors for each atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia are also quite different. With afib the risk factors are age and genetics, while with svt the use of illegal drugs, underlying health issues, or heart failure is to blame. This means that svt is preventable while afib is not.