ACLS Algorithm for Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

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What is the ACLS Algorithm for SVT and How Does it Work?

Supraventricular tachycardia visualized on an ECG
Supraventricular tachycardia visualized on an ECG

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a type of heart rhythm disorder that is caused by an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system. It can lead to a fast and irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, lightheadedness, and fainting.

The ACLS algorithm for SVT is used to treat an SVT episode. The simplified version of the algorithm is as follows:

RELATED: Tachycardia Management: Diagnosing and Treating Stable Tachycardia

Regular Narrow-Complex Tachycardia (Probable SVT) Algorithm in ACLS:

  1. Attempt vagal maneuvers to reduce the heart rate.
  2. Obtain a 12-lead ECG, and seek expert consultation.
  3. Administer adenosine 6 mg IV push (IVP) in a large vein. Follow with a saline flush, and elevate the arm immediately. If conversion does not result within 1–2 minutes, give adenosine 12 mg IVP for the second dose.
  4. Adenosine is successful 90% of the time for SVT. If it is not successful, consider another arrhythmia cause.

Since adenosine may cause bronchospasms, avoid giving it to patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

RELATED: The SVT PALS Algorithm: How does it work and why is it important?

What Drugs are Used in Treating SVT According to the Algorithm?

A Rapid bolus of Adenosine
A Vial of Adenosine

Once the patient has been assessed for their condition, the next step would be to give them an anti-arrhythmic medication such as Adenosine, which blocks electrical signals in the heart that are causing the abnormal rhythms.

There are a few things to keep in mind before administering Adenosine to an SVT patient:

  • It is best to place the patient in reverse Trendelenburg position before administering the drug.
  • Adenosine is administered intravenously.
  • Use continuous cardiac monitoring while administering.
  • Watch for side effects, such as bronchospasm, flushing and chest heaviness.

RELATED: What is the ACLS V Tach with a Pulse Algorithm?

Do You Want to Learn More About the SVT Algorithm?

For the full adult SVT algorithm, plus all the latest versions of ACLS algorithms, download an ACLS Course Pack from MedicalPro Certs. You can also learn about other tachycardias, such as Atrial Fibrillation and VTach and more, by checking out our blog

If you need to get certified in ACLS and learn about all the updates on more ACLS drugs, try MedicalPro Certs online ACLS Certification Course, and get certified today!

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