Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) can best be described as an abnormally rapid series of heartbeats that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. It typically surfaces for the first time in childhood or early adulthood, although the first episode may manifest itself at any age, and it is not indicative of an abnormal heart condition.
Patients experience the disturbing sensation of a heart pounding from 140 to 200 beats or more per minute.
While the number of people affected by this heart disturbance is not known, its consequences can be serious. Since the heart is beating so rapidly, it cannot rest between beats, and as a result, the heart’s chambers cannot contract sufficiently or become filled with enough blood, leading to inadequate supplies of blood to the body. When this occurs, the patient experiences dizziness and/or breathlessness.
Research conducted at the University of Virginia yielded an effective treatment for PSVT: Adenocard®. By slowing down the heart’s electrical conduction, Adenocard® — an injection-based treatment — in turn slows the heart rate. It was developed by the late Robert M. Berne, M.D., a professor emeritus of physiology, and Luiz Belardinelli, M.D., and was first patented in 1982. Today, Adenocard® is used widely in hospitals and emergency vehicles around the world.
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