Premature superventricular contraction
What is premature superventricular contraction?
Premature superventricular contraction (PSC) refers to premature contractions originating from the ventricles, the lower heart chambers. They are called “premature” because they occur before the regular heartbeat.
This causes the sensation of the heart skipping a beat. What really happens is that the heart makes an extra beat sooner than normal, followed by a pause, and then a stronger than normal beat. Many people occasionally have these premature contractions, which are not unusual in children and teenagers.
Children and adolescents may exhibit paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT) or paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT or SVT). The latter is the most common form of abnormal tachycardia (fast heartbeat) in children, and is not life-threatening. Even very young infants with otherwise normal hearts may display this symptom, accompanied by more sleepiness or fussiness than usual. In this case, and if symptoms occur frequently or last a long time, diagnosis and treatment are necessary. Often after treatment, symptoms stop after 6 to 12 months, and medication wards off future episodes.
In an older infant or child, symptoms may include chest discomfort, dizziness, lightheadedness, weakness, palpitations or stomach upset.
Usually PSC occurs with no detectable cause. PSC without a cause most likely will disappear on its own. However, on occasion PSC may be caused by disease or injury to the heart. Tests are recommended to check your heart health.
Monitoring a fetus may help detect SVT, resulting in a treatment plan for the mother, consisting of medicine to slow the fetal heart rate. Older children with tachycardia episodes may need more diagnostic testing and longer treatment.
If tests reveal a cause for PSC, your physician can formulate a treatment plan. Sometimes simple procedures can stop a fast heart rhythm; at other times catheterization through the nostril into the esophagus may be necessary, which involves a hospital stay and further studies.